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Like most areas of law, Intellectual Property can appear daunting and complex. There are a great many practice areas, subjects and procedures. The SH&P “A-Z” Intellectual Property glossary is a free and easy to use glossary of legal terms commonly used and associated with IP. We hope that it will help you better understand this topic. All of the entries include contact details for SH&P expert advisers. Alternatively, you can request a free, no obligation, IP Consultation and Review here if you require more information or have a particular issue you would like us to help you with.

Once a trade mark is registered, it is important that the mark is used in the country of registration in order to maintain it. Failure by an owner to use their trade mark may result in third parties attempting to cancel the trade mark registration on the grounds of “non-use”.

The period after which a registration becomes vulnerable to cancellation on the grounds of non-use differs between countries. For example, a European Union trade mark or UK trade mark must be used within 5 years from the date on which it is entered on the register, whereas in some other countries (e.g. China) there is a shorter non-use period of 3 years.

In some countries (e.g. the US) there is a requirement of use to be proven periodically in order to maintain a trade mark registration. On the other hand, a small number of countries have a ‘no use’ provision which means that there is no requirement to use the trade mark in those countries when registered.

What constitutes use may also differ from country to country. In general terms, use should be considered genuine commercial use, and must also be for the goods and services for which the trade mark is registered. If a registration is attacked for non-use and use of the trade mark has occurred only in relation to some of the goods and services for which it is registered, it would be possible to defend the registration against a non-use cancellation action for those goods and services, but not for the other goods and services for which the trade mark has not been used and is registered.

There may be occasions when it is not possible to use the trade mark in the country in which the mark is registered. In these instances, the reasons for non-use must be justified in order to defend a non-use cancellation action brought by an interested party.


  • David Powell

    Brands & Trade Marks, Domain Names, Websites & E-commerce, In-House Management of TM Portfolios

    David is a Trade Mark Attorney and a partner of SH&P, which he joined…
  • Jonathan Sutton

    Brands & Trade Marks, In-House Management of TM Portfolios

    Jon has been with SH&P since 1996. Prior to joining SH&P Jon worked as…

  • Peter Cornford

    Brands & Trade Marks, In-House Management of TM Portfolios, Product Design & Copyright

    Peter has worked as a trade mark lawyer for over 30 years, qualifying as…
  • Robin Webster

    Brands & Trade Marks, Domain Names, Websites & E-commerce, In-House Management of TM Portfolios

    After graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cardiff University in 1992, Robin…
In order to be patentable in the United Kingdom, an invention must be new.  It must also involve an inventive step.

An invention is new, i.e. has novelty, if it has not previously been available to the public anywhere in the world.  For the purpose of assessing novelty, the state of the art consists of everything that has already been disclosed to the public – in the UK or elsewhere – by publication (in a printed document or online), by oral description, by public use or in any other way.

If a patent application is to be filed, this must be done before the invention has been disclosed to the public.  Any discussion of the invention with others (such as potential manufacturers or financial backers), before a patent application is filed, must be in strict confidence – preferably under the terms of a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) signed by the parties.

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