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The Trade Marks Act 1994 is the law governing trade marks within the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man. It implements EU Directive No. 89/104/EEC (The Trade Marks Directive) which forms the framework for the trade mark laws of all EU member states, and replaced an earlier law, the Trade Marks Act 1938. Although the UK's trade mark regime covers the Isle of Man, it does not extend to the Channel Islands which have their own trade mark registers.
The Act provides both civil and criminal law sanctions for the misuse of registered trade marks. Section 93 of the Act makes enforcement of the criminal sanctions the duty of the local Weights and Measures Authority (usually the Trading Standards department) and imports enforcement powers from the Trade Descriptions Act.
Similar criminal law provisions are written into the related Copyright Designs and Patents Act.
The UK Patent Office, which deals with trade mark registration, has recently implemented a national intelligence database, TellPat, which is available to enforcement officers.
Changes from 1938 Act
The introduction of new primary legislation for trade marks in 1994 enabled the government to make a number of changes beyond merely implementing the EU Directive. These include:
- Removing the two-part registration system: under the 1938 Act, trademarks were registered into two distinct parts (Part A and B) with different distinctiveness requirements.
- Allowing applications to multiple classes.
- Ensuring the registration requirements for goods and services are as similar as possible.
The Act also provides for a defence of "honest" use of a natural name.
- Jones, Stephen; Smith, Robert (27 March 1991). "Putting trade mark law in touch with commerce". Law Society Guardian Gazette. 88 (12) – via Lexis.
- Mosawi, Anthony (24 March 1995). "The fire line between trade marks". New Law Journal. 145 (6688): 410 – via Lexis.
- Text of the Trade Marks Act 1994 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk.
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