Once a trade mark is registered, it has the ability to last for an infinite numbers of years, if an application for renewal is filed before its expiry period of ten years. However, for a number of reasons, a trade mark can be revoked from registration therefore leaving it open for another party to register it.
The main reason why a trade mark would be revoked is non-use. As trade marks are such commercial assets, demand for certain marks are high, therefore it is not fair to allow a person to have a monopoly over a mark that is wanted by others when they don’t use it
Therefore, under Section 46 of the Trade Marks Act 1994, a trade mark will be revoked if it has not been put to genuine use in a period of five years following the date of registration. It will also be revoked if there has been non-use for an interrupted period of five years at any time and there has been no proper reasons given for non-use.
In addition to non-use, a trade mark can be revoked if through its use has become commonplace. This is known as trade mark dilution. This is how brands such as Hoover and Google have struggled in the past to keep their trade marks registered.
Also, if a trade mark through its use can be seen to mislead the public as to the nature or quality of the goods or services, it will also be revoked.
A trade mark can be revoked in its entirety or just for a class of goods or services depending on the circumstances
It is also important to note that an application for revocation of a registered trade mark can be completed by anyone, whether it be the trade mark owner themselves or a competitor or someone who is looking to complete an application themselves for a trademark which may conflict with the one already registered.
So, if you are sitting on a trade mark that you don’t currently use, get moving before you lose it!