The Korean and Japanese Trade Marks Offices have recently decided to amend their legislation to allow letters of consent from existing trade mark owners to add more flexibility in the registration of trade marks. This decision can potentially streamline the trade mark registration process where a trade mark application may have similarities to an existing trade mark.
Traditionally, the Korean and Japanese Trade Marks Offices have taken a strict approach to trade mark registration, requiring that trade marks be completely unique to existing trade marks. This has meant in practice having to use convoluted tools such as the “assign back” approach as ways to overcome prior registered trade marks.
Therefore, the adoption of letters of consent is an attempt to address this issue by allowing for more flexibility in the registration process. This means that trade marks that would previously have been rejected due to similarity can now be approved if the owner of the existing trade mark agrees to allow it.
The change should hopefully make it much easier for co-existence arrangements to be recognised and, with any luck, lead to a more efficient trademark registration process when the respective parties do not believe that confusion exists.