Trade-mark hearings turn to Skype as IPO moves services online

Patent agency says services are ‘mainly unaffected’

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The Intellectual Property Office has said that all trade-mark hearings will be held virtually until June at least.

The arm’s-length body has issued an operational update claiming that its “services are mainly unaffected at present”.

This includes trade-mark hearings, which usually take place at a facility at the Aldgate Tower building in east London. For the time being, all such cases will be heard “via telephone, Skype or other virtual methods”, the IPO said.

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The agency’s online case roster has listings for hearings up until 16 June – the location for all of which is listed as “video”. It does not intend to recommence booking any physical hearings until the beginning of June at the earliest.

“Parties will be contacted over the next few days if their current hearing arrangements need to change,” it added.

The IPO said that, while it remains able to process physical payment and paper forms and correspondence “we ask customers to use our online services whenever possible [as] this will give us the best chance of continuing to deliver our services”.

“For now, our fax machine is still operating,” it added. “We will review this and will let you know if we are going to shut the fax service down. Please do not send duplicate copies to the email and fax. This will slow down the processing of yours and others’ forms.”

For any services that are not currently available digitally, a special email address – – has been created. This can be used in place of faxes or postal communications.

“Our people are our top priority,” the IPO said. “The majority of our staff are equipped to work from home and are doing so to avoid unnecessary travel and social contact. Our sites remain open for essential work that can only be undertaken on site.”

Users of the IPO’s services are advised to keep an eye on a GOV.UK webpage, where the agency will provide updates over the coming weeks.


Sam Trendall

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