Community Trade Mark documents now free and online

Correspondence between trade mark agents and the Community Trade Mark (CTM) Office in Alicante, Spain, has been made accessible online and free of charge for the first time. Until this week, such documents were available only by fax and for a fee.

CTM files generally contain all correspondence exchanged between a CTM owner or its agent and the Office, properly called the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market and better known as OHIM. Correspondence relating to CTMs filed after 1st January 2004 is now available electronically.

Lee Curtis, a trade mark attorney with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said: "For the first time you can view with ease what has been said on a particular CTM application or registration during its prosecution, which will be of assistance in opposition, invalidity and infringement proceedings."

Confidential documents and documents relating to unpublished CTM applications are not publicly viewable. Other documents will be made available in an average of two working days after being received, according to OHIM.

Although files relating to published Community Trade Mark Applications and Registrations have been open to public inspection since the inception of OHIM in 1996 via a faxback service, the online access tool is expected to be of great assistance to those dealing with CTM rights, such as IP lawyers, trade mark attorneys and trade mark owners.

For UK Intellectual Property Office files, only basic information is available without charge and online. Correspondence in relation to published applications and registrations is, however, available using a faxback service, via the post or by visiting the UKIPO in person.