19. Apr 16

Trademark law: Community trade mark becomes European Union trade mark

The new regulation concerning European Union trade marks is set to come into force on March 23, 2016. What has hitherto been known as a Community trade mark will then become a European Union trade mark.

GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London conclude: A distinction is made in trademark law between affording a mark protection within a given national market or throughout the countries of the European Union. Trademark protection is a critical element of many businesses’ commercial success that prevents competitors profiting from the success of their trademarks.

The Community trade mark regulation was created to expand this protection beyond national boundaries across the countries of the EU. Community trade marks have been used to establish EU-wide intellectual property rights, and the European Union trade mark regulation will update the relevant provisions. One of its aims is to provide greater legal certainty.

The most noticeable difference concerns the name. On March 23, 2016, the well-known Community trade mark becomes the European Union trade mark. At the same time, the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) shall from then on be called the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). Existing Community trade marks and Community trade mark applications will automatically become European Union trade marks and European Union trade mark applications on March 23. Accompanying the new legislation is an amendment to associated fees. Particularly when it comes to extending trademarks, the fees are set to drop.

That being said, it will still be essential for trademarks to have properties that clearly distinguish them from rivals’ products if they are to be capable of being registered as European Union trade marks. Trademarks that do not feature this distinctive character or have not acquired it in the eyes of consumers generally cannot be registered as a European Union trade mark.

That is why it is always important for the registration of a trademark to be well prepared. Trademarks are of considerable value to businesses and should therefore be afforded a high level of protection. If the rights of third parties are infringed by registering a trademark, this infringement of trademark law may be punished accordingly. Lawyers who are competent in the field of trademark law can assist companies in registering a trademark as well as fending off or enforcing claims in the event of trademark violations.

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