Filing for an EU Trademark is a wise decision if you want to protect your brand across the European Union. It is a valuable tool for ensuring that no one copies your products and hard-earned brand image. In this article, you will find out what the requirements are to get an EU Trademark, the scope of protection, the application process, as well as other relevant practical aspects to take into account throughout the process.
If you need help or advice to register your trademark, our specialized trademark lawyer will be delighted to help you.
What is an EU Trademark and am I able to get one?
A registered trademark grants you exclusive rights over “distinctive signs”, which include the following concepts:
- Packaging of goods
- Smells (with specific requirements which shall not be explored here. Find out more
A single trademark can protect one or a variety of these concepts all at once, as long as these concepts come together to create a distinctive sign that identifies your brand and differentiates it from others.
Scope and duration of IP protection
An EU Trademark will protect your brand across all EU countries for 10 years before it must be renewed. Information relevant to renewal can be found below in the section titled “IP Monitoring and TM Renewal”.
How can I apply for an EU Trademark?
Now that we have covered the definition of a registered trademark in the EU and its scope, we shall now cover the application process, which must be conducted through the EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office).
The application process can be split up into 5 steps:
- Trademark Search
- File the EUIPO Trademark Application
- Examination Period
- Trademark Issuance
For the purpose of giving an example, we shall go through the TM application procedure under the presumption that you want to register a logo as a trademark in the EU.
Step 1: Trademark Search
Before filing your application, it is wise to first check if your logo is not already registered. This search can be done free of charge through eSearch plus and TMview. In these portals, you can search both with text and by dragging and dropping an image of your logo into the search bar. For official EUIPO information regarding trademark search criteria, click here.
Once you have found that your logo is distinguishable from those already registered, you can proceed to start the EUIPO application process.
Step 2: File the EUIPO Trademark Application
The easiest way to start the application process is online through the official EUIPO website. Here, you will find two options.
The Fast Track option is the most efficient way of protecting your brand as quickly as possible. On average, these applications are processed 50% faster and take just 3 weeks to be published. This would be recommended for most trademarks and requires that payment be made at the very beginning – the examination period cannot begin until the payment (850€) has been received.
The Fast Track option is a simple 5 step process that the website takes you through. An informative explanation of the 5 steps can be found here. An important aspect to consider is the input of the goods and services you will provide under this trademark. If you are providing goods and services in various industries or sectors, and therefore need to include several classifications, you will have a higher risk of a problematic application. Fortunately, the EUIPO have created a Goods & Services builder to help you, which can be found here.
The Advanced Form should only be used for more complex applications involving a customized goods and services submission, a collective mark, an international trademark transformation, or use more than one language in your application.
Step 3: Examination Period
Once filed, an EUIPO examiner will review your trademark application and within one month will inform you if there have been any issues. This could be an innocent mistake in the form, which is easily fixed, or a concern regarding the distinctiveness of the logo, for example.
Most issues that arise are often innocent mistakes. In this case, you have two months to correct any problems and move forward with the trademark application procedure.
Step 4: Publication
Once provisionally approved, your trademark will be published in the EU Trademark Bulletin. This will be published for three months, during which time third parties may review your mark and, if they believe that it is too similar or is a copy of their trademark, they can file a notice of opposition. In this case, your application could be delayed for more than 2 years given the length of the opposition procedure. [If your application has been opposed by another party, learn how to overcome this here.]
Step 5: Trademark Issuance
If no third parties have filed oppositions and your application is in order, congratulations! Your trademark will be approved by the EUIPO and within 6 months of publication, you will receive a registration certificate. This is a document that proves your exclusive legal right to use your trademark throughout the European Union. But it isn’t over yet…
Follow-up: IP Monitoring and TM Renewal
Just because you have the IP rights protecting your brand with your shiny new trademark, that doesn’t mean that your brand is free from risk. It is now up to you to ensure that nobody else tries to use your brand for their own commercial gain.
In order to facilitate the monitoring and continued protection of your IP, we have partnered with [insert partner’s name here with a link] to ensure that you don’t have to worry about this part of the process.
Don’t forget that your trademark is only protected through EUIPO for 10 years. At the end of this period, you must file for a renewal. It would be wise to carefully manage this or hire an IP lawyer to take charge since the EUIPO will not remind you when your protection is ending.
Final words about International Trademark
We hope that you now feel much more comfortable with regard to your trademark application. However, if you are wanting to protect your IP in more countries than just the EU, there is another procedure to register an International Trademark through the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) that allows you to protect your brand across the world. You can learn “How to register and international trade mark in 3 steps“. If you have any doubts, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our experienced IP specialists.Read More
Knowing how to register your international trademark is necessary if you operate internationally and want to protect your brand. It is the best way to ensure that the time you spent creating your brand image does not go to waste or copied by others. The protection of international trademarks is governed by the Madrid System, composed by the Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol. By following the Madrid System, you can protect your IP across the 122 countries that currently agree to mutually protect each other’s nationals’ trademarks – these countries are known as the Madrid Union. In this article, you will find out how to register an International Trademark, the requirements for filing, the duration, and other practical concerns to be considered.
If you need help or advice in the process, our trademark attorney can help.
Requirements to register an International Trademark
The requirements for an international trademark are essentially the same as for national filings. In fact, to receive international protection of your brand, you must first go through one of the national Trademark Offices of a Contracting State to the Madrid System, as we will see later on. First though, a quick recap of what can be protected under this system:
- Packaging of goods
- Smells (with specific requirements which shall not be explored here. Find out more here.)
A single international trademark can protect one or a variety of these concepts all at once, as long as these concepts come together to create a distinctive sign that identifies your brand and differentiates it from others.
However, it should be noted that in order to file for international protection, you must be either:
- A citizen of a Contracting State to the Madrid System
- A legal entity resident in a Contracting State
- A legal entity with a real and effective industrial or commercial establishment in a Contracting State
Scope and duration of IP protection
An International Trademark will protect your brand for 10 years. After this 10-year period, you can file for a renewal, details of which will be covered later in the section titled “Follow up: IP Monitoring and TM Renewal”.
The number of countries in which it will be protected will depend entirely on your filing and where you decide to invest resources in brand protection. You can always request to add more countries to the trademark at a later date through a Territorial Expansion Application, so don’t worry if you want to start small and increase protection over time. This will cost 300 Swiss francs (CHF) plus 100 CHF per additional country. There can also be a variable element to this fee. To be sure, check out WIPO’s Fee Calculator.
How can I apply for an International Trademark?
First and foremost, to register for a trademark internationally, you must apply to a national trademark office pertaining to a Contracting State. You do not apply directly to WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization).
The registration procedure can be separated into 3 steps:
- Apply to the appropriate National Trademark Office
- Examination of trademark application by the WIPO
- Examination of trademark application by National Trademark Office of each requested country
Step 1: Apply to the appropriate National Trademark Office
The first step of the process entails applying to the right National Trademark Office for you. This is relatively simple to find out through a quick Google search. Below is a list of a few of the national offices with links to their websites.
- UK: IPO (Intellectual Property Office)
- Germany: DPMA (Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt)
- France: INPI (Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle)
- Spain: OEPM (Oficina Española de Patentes y Marcas)
- Italy: UIBM (Ufficio Italiano Brevetti e Marchi)
In applying to this national office, you will have to fill in the Form MM2. Once filed, the national office will examine the application. If there are no defects to the filing, they will then pass your application to the WIPO for further examination at an international level. This will usually take up to 2 months.
Step 2: Examination of trademark application by the WIPO
Once approved by the national office, the WIPO will then take their turn to examine your application. This examination is mainly to ensure that there are no defects in the application and that you are a legitimate applicant that fulfills the requirements. Upon approval, it will be published in the WIPO’s International Trademark Gazette, and the application will then be forwarded to the national offices of every requested country.
Step 3: Examination of trademark application by the National Trademark Office of each requested country
The international trademark registration procedure essentially has the same effect as if you were to apply to register a national trademark in all of the countries’ requested. Therefore, at this stage, the relevant national trademark offices will examine your application for any faults and, importantly, any potential IP conflicts with already registered trademarks in that country.
Usually, an important part of the national procedure is to publish the application in their national gazette or bulletin and allow a time period for other trademark holders to voice their concerns. If there are any conflicts with pre-registered trademarks, the national office has one year to communicate a notification of provisional refusal – this time period can occasionally be extended to 18 months or longer.
If there is no notification of such a provisional refusal, the trademark is granted and your brand is now officially protected in that country. Congratulations!
Follow up: IP Monitoring and TM renewal
Now that you officially have a registered international trademark, you might feel like the job is over. That is unfortunately not the case. There are many companies and individuals out there who might want to copy your brand and use it for their own personal or commercial gain.
Therefore, to ensure that your hard work has not been for nothing, it is of utmost importance to establish an IP monitoring program. Fortunately, we have partnered with [insert partner’s name here with a link] so that you can rest easy knowing that you are protecting your trademark and your brand image.
It is also essential to remember that your international trademark is only protected for 10 years. Once this time period has elapsed, you need to file for a renewal. The WIPO and the vast majority of national trademark offices do not send out automatic reminders, so you should either carefully manage this or hire a trustworthy IP lawyer to ensure that you don’t wake up to find that you have to start the procedure again.
Now that you know how to apply for an international trademark, protect your brand and monitor your IP, it should be noted that the actual process can take some time. Moreover, if there are mistakes in your application or a notification of provisional refusal is communicated to the WIPO or any national trademark office, that can further complicate matters and result in lengthy delays.
If you would feel safer hiring an attorney to take you through the whole procedure, you can contact us.Read More