Race for first trade mark

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The Independent Online
BASS the brewer, owner of Britain's oldest trade mark, is determined to retain its place at the head of the queue when the new Trade Marks Act comes into force at the end of this month.

So stiff is the competition for the first place that the Patent Office is having to hold a draw for the coveted initial number to ensure fair play.

Companies hoping to boast of having the first trade mark registered under the new law will have to submit their application by hand, with a cheque for pounds 225, to the Patent Office in London or Newport between 9am and 10am on 31 October. After ensuring there are no rogue applications, the draw will be made in London on 10 November.

Alison Brimelow, head of the Trade Marks Registry, insists there is 'intense interest in obtaining the first number in the new sequence'.

Companies such as SmithKline Beecham, Unilever, ICI and Nestle are expected to join the rush.

A Bass spokeswoman said there would be a 'historical consistency' in continuing to be number one.

She said the company would be seeking trade mark 2,000,001 - the first in the new series - for the symbol currently attached to Bass Ale, which is very similar to the one for Bass Pale Ale that was given trade mark number one in 1876.

While accepting that the general public was unlikely to appreciate the significance of this distinction, she added that it was important for the company's perception of itself.

The new number series starts from 2,000,000 to make it easier to distinguish those registered under the new act from those registered under 1938 legislation.