Insights Intellectual Property Office reports back on the first year of its “Pre-apply” service


The IPO says that in the year since its trade mark “Pre-apply” service was launched, the average number of trade mark applications rejected due to unsuitable Nice classification terms has dropped by 14%.

Pre-apply is the IPO’s first service powered by AI. The AI tool identifies similar trade marks that already exist, and presents these to the customer, which helps improve the chances of successfully registering a trade mark. Additionally, by helping customers identify the right groups of goods and services for their proposed trade mark, using the pre-apply service means applications are more likely to be accepted.

The IPO has seen a 70% drop in the length of goods and services lists since the service was launched. The IPO says that this means customers will have more suitable trade marks that are more likely to only protect the right goods and services, leaving them less open to challenge.

The service has introduced an improved customer interface and Nice classification picker, shorter and more relevant lists of goods and services, and has removed the option for customers to select all classifications listed on the page.

These improvements mean:

  • examining trade marks is quicker: examiners no longer need to trawl through long lists of goods and services and it’s easier to search and compare; and
  • better quality applications: applications are less likely to be rejected due to unsuitable Nice classification terms, saving customers time and money.

The IPO says that the service was used over 15,000 times in  three months alone, which equates to around two thirds of all applications submitted by customers who do not have an attorney.

The service:

  • uses AI to perform relative and some absolute grounds checks;
  • provides guidance on choosing the right classifications of goods and services;
  • introduced an improved classification picker containing a pre-approved list of terms; and
  • gives an estimate of application costs.

The IPO is planning to make further use of AI and build this technology into future services, as part of its One IPO Transformation Programme.

Potential opportunities could include:

  • improved automated text searches using Natural Language Processing;
  • automated help and guidance, such as pre-apply services across all rights, and chatbots that could, for example, suggest classifications of goods and services; and
  • advanced validation and authentication features across customer accounts and application processes to help improve the quality of applications received.

To read the IPO’s news release in full, click here.