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a relative lack of movement in Ireland

9 July 2010

Ireland’s Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation has published the conclusions from its enquiry into whether the Irish Patent Office should continue to examine trade mark applications to see whether there are relative grounds for refusing the registration.  A trade mark may be refused on relative grounds if it is identical or similar to an earlier trade mark. All applications are also examined to see whether the mark should be rejected on absolute grounds – i.e. because there is something inherently wrong with the mark, for example if it is not distinctive. 

Applications for a European Community Trade Mark, and (since October 2007) for a UK trade mark, are not subject to examination on relative grounds. Instead, existing trade mark owners are notified of applications that may conflict with their registered, and given the opportunity to object – meaning that UK and Community trade mark owners must police applications. 

The UKIPO changed the system of registration to make it more similar to the CTM system – but it is clear that the system in Ireland is easier both for smaller businesses that cannot afford to invest heavily in policing their portfolio, and for consumers, who have a better guarantee of the origin of their goods.

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