Service mark

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Before 1986, trade marks could only be registered in the UK for goods. Many service industries resorted to registering in class 16 for printed matter, because although they didn't deal in it they produced lots. But the Trade Marks (Amendment) Act 1984 finally allowed what were then called "service marks", as recommended by the Mathys Committee[1]. Service marks are now (in the Trade Marks Act 1994) assimilated into the general definition of trade marks.

For some time, registration of service marks for "retail services" was refused by the Trade Marks Registry on the reasonable grounds that a retailer in th ecourse of selling goods did not provide a service, but simply sold goods, and the proper form of trade mark protection was a registration covering the goods themselves. Of course, this meant that most retailers - not those who had "own brand" ranges - were denied protection (although they could still register for financial services and any other ancillary services they offered, and a retailer with a similar name would be passing-off). Then the Community trade marks office (OHIM) accepted a retail services application, and in due course the UK Trade Marks Registry followed suit. The latest statement of its practice regarding retail services dates from 2005.

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