The trade mark press reports that the business of selling on trade mark registrations is growing. The United States has a number of dedicated platforms for this practice and it is reported this month that some 39 registered trade marks are listed on the online auction site eBay. Checking the UK eBay site, a number of UK registrations are listed. Some may be the sort of thing seen in the past, when the disgruntled recipient of a challenge to their mark tries to raise third party interest, but they are rare. Most seem to be businesses wanting to dispose of assets.
Finding a fair value for these isn’t straightforward. Images seen on eBay include pictures of the UKIPO registration certificate, but that may not be the present status of the register. The seller may not even be the registered owner at the UKIPO. Even if all looks legit having checked the trade marks register, a registration may be invalid if obtained despite the existence of earlier rights whose owners didn’t oppose for one reason or another. A registration may be vulnerable to revocation for non-use if it has been on the register in the UK or EU for over 5 years and there has been no use in the last 5 years. Brand valuation is an industry all of its own.
Patents have been traded on platforms, with exponential growth in recent years, including through recognised corporate sellers. It may be early days for the larger corporates to think about selling off trade mark registrations, but if buyers can be found, there may be gold in the unloved IP collection.
This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking any action in reliance on it.