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No 8 (July 97/Juillet 97/Juli 97)
The Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market became operational in Alicante (Spain) on 1 April 1996 for the filing of Community Trade Mark applications. Until 15 May 1997, around 51,000 applications had been filed. Around 60 % of these applications come from companies based in the EU (of which 17.2 % are German and 13.2 % from the UK). US companies represent 30.3 % of non-EC applicants, with Japanese firms in second place. These figures indicate clearly thatindustry wholeheartedly welcomes the creation of a unitary EC trade mark system.
Given the unexpectedly high number of applications which have been filed at the Harmonisation Office, the handling of applications has temporarily met with some delay. Subsequent to the filing of a Community Trade Mark application, the Office examines whether the Trade Mark complies with the conditions for registration. Then, the Office will translate and publish the application in all the official Community languages. After publication, third parties may oppose the registration of the Trade Mark before the Opposition Divisions of the Office. Decisions are subject to appeal before the Boards of Appeal of the Office and further appeal before the EU's Court of First Instance in Luxembourg.
A unitary Trade Mark system valid throughout the EU was established by the Community Trade Mark Regulation (40/94/EEC). It allows firms to register and protect their trade marks in all EU countries on the basis of the filing of one single application to the Office for Harmonisation (see SMN N. 2). The Community Trade Mark helps to remove obstacles to the free movement of goods and services within the Single Market which can arise from differences in national trade mark rules, which only provide for protection within the territory of the Member States in question.
The advantages for industry in using the Community system are evident. Rather than proceeding to the registration of a given mark under the national trade mark systems of each of the twelve Member States, plus the uniform Benelux system, the filing of one single application for registration as a Community trade mark with the Harmonisation Office suffices. The fee for the application and registration of a Community trade mark has been set at 2,075 ECU, which is significantly cheaper than the sum of fees that must be paid to obtain trade mark protection for the whole territory of the EU on the basis of national trade mark registrations.
Directed by Mr. Jean-Claude Combaldieu, former President of the French Patent Office (INPI), the Office is a body of the Community and receives a subsidy from the Community budget as long as it is not able to cover its expenditure through its own income of fees. A Commission proposal for a Regulation to establish a similar unitary EC system for the Protection of Designs is currently pending before the Council and Parliament.
Office for Harmonisation
Avenida de Aguilera 20,
TEL: (+34 6)513 92 43
513 92 72
FAX: (+34 6)513 91 73
TEL: (+32 2)296 03 48
FAX: (+32 2)296 17 36