The changes modernise the existing European trade mark system, making trade mark registration across the EU more accessible and efficient for businesses, with lower costs, decreased registration times and greater legal certainty.
The reforms will improve conditions for businesses to innovate and to benefit from more effective trade mark protection against counterfeit goods.
The key elements of the trade mark reforms are:
- Significant reductions in fees for EU trade marks, particularly renewal fees. The changes will lead to savings of up to 37%, in particular for businesses that seek protection of their registered EU trade marks beyond an initial period of 10 years.
- More streamlined and harmonised registration procedures across all trade mark offices in the EU. This will improve the environment for companies that wish to grow across borders, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as they will benefit from the same user experience and greater efficiency and predictability when applying for trade mark protection with multiple national authorities.
- Strengthened means to fight against counterfeits, in particular of goods in transit through EU territory. This will prevent abuse of the EU as a worldwide distribution hub for illegal fake goods.
- Increased legal certainty in many areas, e.g. with a clarification of trade mark rights and their scope.
- Modernised provisions that aid the registration of new types of trade marks in the digital age, such as sound, motion or hologram marks.
Up to now, trade marks could be registered at national level at the industrial property offices of EU countries, or at EU level as a 'Community trade mark' (CTM) at the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM).
From today, all existing CTMs and CTM applications automatically become EU trade marks and EU trade mark applications, and OHIM will be renamed to the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
The EU trade mark still offers a one-step registration procedure that grants the owner an exclusive right in all 28 EU countries.
National and EU trade marks coexist and are complementary to each other. This dual system meets the requirements of companies of different sizes, markets and geographical presence. National trade marks may be better for small or local firms who don't need EU-wide protection.
The reforms include greater cooperation between the EUIPO and national offices. Legislative measures include:
- a new Trade Marks Directive governing national trade marks across the EU, Directive (EU) 2015/2436
- a revised Regulation on the Community Trade Mark, Regulation (EU) 2015/2424
This marks the biggest change in European trade mark law in the last 20 years and follows nearly three years of discussions between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council.
- Press release: European Parliament and EU Council back European Commission trade mark reform package, 21 April 2015
- FAQ: Package to modernise the European trade mark system, 21 April 2015
- Trade mark protection in the EU
- Simpler procedures, lower costs and more legal protection: EU trade mark reforms