As a trade mark owner, you are responsible for enforcing your own rights, including monitoring your trade mark to make sure no one else is using it.
There are several tools and services available to help you keep track of trade marks in the UK and globally. Some are free to use and many others are offered at a charge. If you decide to pay for a trade mark watch service, make sure that you choose a reputable and legitimate organisation and don’t fall prey to scams or misleading solicitations.
Below we list some simple and free ways in which you can monitor trade marks.
Check the IPO trade mark journal
Before they register a new trade mark, the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) will advertise applications in their online journal.
They publish the journal every week on a Friday. It contains information on accepted applications for:
- UK trade marks
- international trade marks that include the UK
Register for IPO's eAlerts
The IPO offers a free eAlerts service. This service allows you to sign up for alerts to:
- check the status of your UK or international registration application
- track other people's applications, eg to find out when they’ve registered or opposed trade marks
Use caveats for monitoring trade marks
You can also send a 'caveat request' to the IPO if you want to monitor an application for - or registration of - a trade mark. A caveat is a notification that something has happened on an application or a registration.
Filing a caveat will enable you to find out if:
- an application is published, withdrawn, refused or deemed abandoned
- opposition has been filed
- an application is registered, withdrawn, refused or abandoned after publication
- a registration is not renewed
- a registration is renewed or expired
- a registration is surrendered or revoked
- an assignment application is received
- a trade mark is assigned, either partially or in full
- any action or event not listed here occurs
The owner of the trade mark - if it is another person or business – won’t know that a caveat has been requested.
Monitoring global trade marks: Madrid monitor
Similar to the IPO's tools, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) offers e-services that can help you monitor specific trade marks. These are:
- Madrid monitor - it helps you follow status of your international trade mark application and registration, or search for specific trade marks
- e-notifications - the WIPO emails you copies of notices concerning your application or registration, including irregularity notices, provisional refusals, etc
What if someone attempts to register a similar trade mark?
If you realise through monitoring that someone else is filing a potentially infringing application, there are several ways to dispute their registration. Each situation will be different, but typically you may be able to object to or challenge trade marks.
If you need to contest a trade mark application or registration, you should consider seeking advice from an attorney or IP professional. Find a chartered trade mark attorney near you.