Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Trade Mark Roles at CIPA

This tweet caught my eye. When I was young I served on that illustrious committee. It was a long time ago and much of the work was about the 1994 act. It was great fun but I had no idea what we were supposed to be doing.

So let's consider what the role of the trademark committee should be. It might be to impose its members views on UK trademark policy and influence the IPO accordingly. That doesn't quite sound right does it (but its probably true).

If we look at its latest report in the CIPA journal for June 2014 We find a brief report that suggests that they were interested in plain packaging, goods in transit and not at all interested in the trademark fast-track consultation. Not much inkling on the CIPA policies on these issues might be though. [The Duck notices that the same journal contains a report suggesting that trademarks are outside our comfort zone]

It was CIPA who took forward the IP TRANSLATOR case which has led to real changes in trademark law and practice which are of undoubted benefit to business. This is because a specification that means what it says can be understood by a business man. That was very much seen as a personal campaign of Richard Ashmead's (now a SOLO too). Nevertheless, it gives some indication of what CIPA might adopt as a trademark objective.

Trademarks are a very substantial part of intellectual property practice, so much so that agents have their own institute ITMA which duplicates much of the work that CIPA could be doing. This suggests that CIPA should have a clear objective so that it can work in a way that complements its sister organisation and avoids duplication of effort. Our members are all patent attorneys so when we get involved in trademark practice it is more likely to begin with  technically based businesses rather than fast-moving consumer goods and fashion (though once we become expert there is generally no stopping us). Therefore, could the trademark committee of CIPA focus on collection of evidence on those types of businesses in order to present opinions to legislators, OHIM and the IPO?

In my day the trademark committee also had a role in organising seminars and disseminating information on recent developments, but that seems to have been split off.

We have reports of trademark decisions that appear in the journal. These also seem to be purely objective and outside the scope of the committee.

CIPA also collects royalties on the widely unread,scantily publicised and far too expensive Trademark HandBook the production of which is also outside the scope of the committee.

So what does this leave for the committee to do. Should it be reactive and only respond to consultations or should it have an agenda. Maybe its first priority should be to update its page on the CIPA website

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