29 November 2012

Class headings

The IP Translator case created a judgement in relation to the use of Class headings of the International (Nice) Classification covering ALL the items in its particular class.

Previous OHIM practice was that Class headings included all other goods or services in a particular class. Now specifications must contain clarity and precision meaning this is no longer necessarily the case.

It is now possible to file for Class headings and then indicate that this is to include all the goods/services within that Class when filing Community Trade Marks by simple ticking a box when filing on-line.

This has led a number of International applications to be filed (that contain Class headings) with a statement to claim that the applicant wishes to include all the goods or services in the Class. Some of these statements have been specific to the European Community and some to other countries.

Bringing us more up-to-date, this has led WIPO to issue Information Notice 23/2012 stating firmly that it is the Offices of each designated country that will determine the scope of protection.

As WIPO allude to, this will almost undoubtedly see home applications filed for every single item of goods or services in a desired class and then any corresponding International applications for the same specification. It can also be anticipated that applications in non-Madrid countries, that use the International Classification and accept broad specifications, will be filed for these long specifications too.

In times past when filing instructions were received from foreign associates by fax this would have been unbearable having to re-type up long lists of goods or services. Nowadays with on-line systems and e-mail it is far less burdensome and less error prone to cut-and-paste. However, some countries still require printed forms to be filed - these may not have sufficient space for a long list of goods or services without the need for an awkward annex. We could then expect errors when the details are typed into the Register by an official. There are also countries where the Journal/Gazette is still physically printed - with some Government printers already under a huge strain this will surely add delays to applications. The practical implications could stretch across the globe.