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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
The European Patent Office (EPO), the European Committee of Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) have signed recently a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enhance the support they provide to industry and stakeholders in Europe and beyond in the field of standard-essential patents.
This is the first MoU between the organizations who will now work together to extend knowledge about the relationship between standardization and patents.
The purpose of this collaboration is to support inventors, innovators, researchers and industry on standard-essential patents (SEPs) in different areas of technology by promoting the dissemination of technical standards including relevant patented technologies. The agreement complements the established co-operation in this field between the EPO, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the European Commission.
«This agreement will help us to provide inventors and innovating businesses with information about the use of standards and patents in their field of activity,» said EPO President António Campinos. «Co-operation with standardization organizations is essential for tackling the challenges arising from the relationship between standards and patents. It will help ensure that the patent system continues to support a competitive innovation environment for businesses by delivering greater transparency on standard essential patents, as well as high patent quality.»
CEN and CENELEC Director General Elena Santiago Cid added: «CEN and CENELEC actively support the European innovation community and aim to efficiently integrate it in the European standardization system. With this objective, in 2018 we presented our Innovation Plan, which addresses the need to offer fast-track processes to bring research results to the market. The ability to reach the ambitions set out in the Plan will be enhanced by the collaboration with EPO. Together, we can support the European economy to be more competitive in the global knowledge-based economy».
In view of the growing use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT)-related technologies in the more traditional technical fields, the ICT standards, as well as the patents considered essential for their implementation, are becoming increasingly important in this context.
Source: www.epo.orgRead More
The European Patent Office (EPO) held its first major conference on patenting Blockchain on 4 December 2018. The one-day event in The Hague explored the implications of blockchain for patent applications as the technology, which started in the financial sector, is spreading to all technical fields of industrial application.
In his welcome address EPO President Antonio Campinos mentioned that patent applications for blockchain are rising fast and such patents are examined by the EPO in accordance with well-established criteria developed on the basis of case law related to Computer-Implemented Inventions (CII).
The first keynote Speakers (Marieke Flament and Claire Wells) covered the blockchain basics, setting out the main principles, key players and areas of use for this new technology, and the first panel discussed the future impact of this rapidly developing field and its links to other unfolding digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Koen Lievens, Director at the EPO, and Wang Xinyi, Examiner at the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) presented the offices´ approaches to dealing with blockchain patent applications, whereas Nobuyuki Taniguchi (Nakamura & Partners) presented the evolution of Blockchain-related patents in Japan.
An analysis of the emerging patent landscape has revealed a steep increase in patent applications since 2015, a trend similar to the one seen in the case of related technical fields such as AI and self-driving vehicles.
Most of the patent filings have taken place in China (40%), China (20%) and Europe (8%).
The top applicants worldwide are the following: IBM, Alibaba, Coinplug, Boe Technology, Mastercard and Bank of America.
The top applicants in Europe are the following: Visa, Mastercard, Siemens, Accenture, Nokia, Nchain and Sony.
The main technology fields (according to the CPC classification scheme) are the following: Payment architectures, schemes or protocols; Cryptographic mechanisms or cryptographic arrangements for secret or secure communication; Network architectures or network communication protocols for network security; Security arrangements for protecting computers; Finance, insurance, tax strategies; Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce and Digital computing or data processing equipment or methods.
Source: www.epo.orgRead More
The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has upheld its prior decision to grant the registration of trademark STEVE JOBS, in the name of two Neapolitan brothers, Vincenzo and Giacomo Barbato.
The trademark was not only for STEVE JOBS, but also for a stylization, and a very particular letter J, that likely reminds consumers of another company’s logotype:
The Neapolitan brothers noticed that Apple had neglected to register its founder’s name as a trademark and, unwilling to let this opportunity go by, registered the trademark as shown above before the EUIPO (Registration No. 011041861), in International Classes 9, 18, 25, 38 and 42.
After noticing this, Apple Inc. attacked this registration before the EUIPO, arguing that the letter J was a copy of Apple Inc.’s own apple device, with a very similar leaf, and a bite taken off it, as shown here:
After years of arguments, the EUIPO ruled in favor of the Barbato brothers, arguing that letter J is not edible, and consequently there is no relation between the bitten apple of the technological company and the “bitten” J of the Italian brothers.
Consequently, the registration was sustained, and there are now clothes being sold under the STEVE JOBS trademark. The trademark owners have also indicated that they would eventually be interested in selling electronic devices with this trademark and, with the Class 9 protection, this is very likely to happen.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to foresee how a company or market will develop and these situations cannot always be avoided, but it is important to note that comprehensive planning, and to proactively protect through trademark registration those terms important to a company.
Note: Trademark STEVE JOBS was also applied for before the USPTO (Serial No. 79141888), but rejected by said institution.
by Moeller IP Advisors
On February 5, 2018, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the National Institute of Industrial Property of Argentina (INPI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the introduction of the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) by INPI. The MoU was signed during a meeting held between EPO President Benoît Battistelli and Argentina’s Commerce Secretary Miguel Braun in Buenos Aires to discuss recent developments in patents and innovation and the cooperation between the two regions in this field. According to the MoU, INPI will start classifying its publications with the CPC by January 2019.
The CPC, which was launched by the EPO and the USPTO in January 2013, is now considered the new global standard for refined patent classification. It is already in use, or will soon be used, by 26 patent offices around the world. Argentina has joined other Latin American countries, including Mexico, Brazil and Chile, in the adoption of the CPC.
At the meeting, progress was discussed on other joint projects laid out in a MoU on bilateral co-operation signed by the EPO and INPI in May 2017. This agreement covers areas such as access to information, sharing data and tools, improved patent procedures, and training.
In addition to EPO and INPI cooperation on patent matters, the European Union is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with the four founding members of Mercosur – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay -, where the adhesion of Argentina to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is being discussed.
As part of the cooperation, Battistelli wanted to meet representatives of the European chambers of commerce in Argentina to hear concerns and difficulties European companies face at INPI concerning patent matters. Jose Santacroce, head of patent technical advisors for Moeller IP, participated in the above-mentioned meeting representing the firm through the Austrian-Argentine Chamber of Commerce.
Santacroce outlined specific challenges, such as the huge backlog existing at the INPI as well as the lack of tools and resources to deal with it, and the current problems regarding the obtaining of pharmaceutical patents. He also requested Battistelli to lend all possible support, including general training for INPI examiners. In particular, Santacroce requested training for complex and rapidly evolving technical areas such as Computer-Implemented Inventions, Biotechnology and Nanotechnology, and all types of tools to facilitate online access to databases.
French and Italian perfume companies are aiming at smell trademarks to be included in the new European Resolution.
For that reason, they are trying to raise awareness regarding the existing legal gap for the protection of this kind of trademarks. Because there is no legislation applicable, it is quite easy to copy fragrancies at low costs.
In the EU, three requirements have to be met in order for a trademark to be considered as such: to be a sign; to be possible to graphically represent that sign and that it distinguishes products.
For smell trademarks to be protected, the new European Resolution will have to remove the second requirement (graphic representation) and replace it with the following “a sign that can be represented so the consumers and the authorities can identify a specific product”.
Source: http://www.wipo.intRead More