There are some recent changes to CTM and UK trademark law.
For CTM applications filed after 10 March 2008, CTM searches will be optional. The CTM Register report will continue to be issued for all applications filed after 10 March 2008; however, separate individual searches will only be conducted and provided on request. CTM applicants should note that the request for national searches must be made at the time the application is filed. Applicants will not be able to request searches at a later time. Moreover, the CTM Office will charge a separate fee for the searches (the amount has not yet been determined).
Finally, applicants should note that the option for national searches is “all or nothing”. An applicant elects to receive searches from all 17 countries who currently provide search reports or none. Applicants may not cherry-pick certain countries for which they would like to receive reports.
New rules at the UK Patent Office too: In October 2007, the UK Intellectual Property Office stopped examining (and refusing) new applications on relative grounds (i.e., the existence of earlier registrations or applications). Accordingly, prior U.K., CTM and IR registrations will no longer prevent new UK applications from maturing to registration. While the IPO continues to conduct searches, it simply informs the applicant of any potentially conflicting mark. The IPO automatically informs only the owners of prior U.K. and IR registrations of the new applications. It does not automatically inform owners of earlier CTM registrations. However, owners of CTM registrations may opt-in for notification.
* Thanks to my friends at Graham Watt & Co. for this news.