The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has recently launched a new service called Trade Mark Pre-Apply. This is a new online tool which uses AI powered checks and searches to help people who have not applied for a trade mark before and who have little or no knowledge of the application process, to improve their chances of successfully registering a trade mark. The aim for the UKIPO is to bring some cost and resource saving benefits to customers before applying for a trade mark, namely:
- check if anyone already has a trade mark too similar to the one they want;
- identify whether aspects of their proposed trade mark are not appropriate, such as offensive words or protected symbols (for example, geographical indications);
- identify the right groups of goods and services for their proposed trade mark;
- see an estimate of their application costs;
Naturally the free service does have limitations nor is it intended to replace the job of a UKIPO examiner. Importantly it is still in its ‘public beta’ phase (meaning that the service is available for anyone to use, but it is an early version that is still under development), although it is expected that the results will become more accurate over time as the AI learns and improves the more it is used, as well as continual development by the UKIPO in response to customer feedback.
This tool appears to be aimed primarily at SMEs although given AI tools like this one are still in their relative infancy and that the value of trade marks can be very significant, our view is that the output is no substitute for professional advice from a Chartered Trade Mark Attorney even for smaller firms. Nevertheless the introduction of this tool by a government body demonstrates the direction of travel for AI powered systems being developed. As the increasing uptake of AI progresses it will be worth monitoring, as future refinement in the AI space might lead to opportunities for more sophisticated brand owners to utilise in their trade mark searching, clearance and filing strategies.