Reflections on the last 30 years
I joined the firm in February 1986 as Saunders & Dolleymore. Following our rebrand some thirty years later, it is a time for reflection and recollection of how things used to be.
There were two partners and a handful of staff, and the partnership was heavily weighted in favour of patent work. It has since become more balanced. I was doing secretarial work during the day to begin with and studying trade mark law and practice in the evenings. The work slowly changed in nature as I learned more and passed exams to qualify as a trade mark agent. The job title was changed for the profession later, to trade mark attorney. Public perception changed at this point to see us as lawyers rather than creating or designing logos.
Way back then, we worked on electric typewriters. A fax was a rarity (on silvery paper which used to fade after a year or so) and meant that the message was urgent. Telexes were even more urgent. We had a huge telex machine the size of a church organ, complete with ticker tape. Since then we’ve seen the introduction of word processors and desktop computers. Networked computers, internet connections all over the world, and handheld mobile devices have superseded that and changed the way that business is conducted. Mobile phones the size (and weight!) of house bricks, have morphed into thin lightweight computers, the phoning element being a very small part of the device’s capacity – online SCRABBLE anyone?
There were no European Union Trade Marks (EUTMs) and the UK wasn’t party to the Madrid Agreement so we didn’t handle International Registrations – only UK applications under the Trade Marks Act 1936. Infringement was limited to use on those goods which were specified in the registration. There was no provision for the registration of marks for services (so we used Class 16 for printed matter!).
UK trade mark applications were examined for both absolute and relative grounds, so if an earlier right was cited, we had to convince the examiner to waive the citation. More applications were refused in those days, but there were fewer oppositions – the Registry had already weeded out the similar marks for the most part.
It’s been quite a ride, but after all this time, I still love the work and relish the challenges.