The UK Trade Marks Registry recently introduced the biggest changes in trademark dispute procedures in the last 50 years. The aims were to speed up and make easier the enforcement of IP rights, reduce litigation costs and provide early indication of the likely outcome of the procedures. As of Spring 2005, the Patent County Court will be given jurisdiction over trademark matters, and trademark attorneys will be given rights of audience. According to the new procedure, a would-be opponent must state up front the use they have made of the earlier protected right at the matter and be able to provide proof. Also, a single cooling-off period is contemplated and the parties have up to 12 months to negotiate if they decide to. A Principal Hearing Officer will give a preliminary view, which can be accepted or not. If not accepted, the parties have one month to notify the Trade Marks Registry and move on to the evidential rounds. The parties then have three months to file evidence. There is no appeal at this stage.
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