Basic information on European Trademarks
What is EU Trade Mark?
An EU trade marks are signs used in trade to identify products.
An EU trade mark may consist of any signs, in particular words, including personal names, or designs, letters, numerals, colours, the shape of goods or of the packaging of goods, or sounds, provided that such signs are capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings; and being represented on the Register of European Union trade marks.
Persons who can be proprietors of EU trade marks: Any natural or legal person, including authorities established under public law, may be the proprietor of an EU trade mark.
What cannot be registered as EU Trade Mark?
The following marks shall not be registered:
- signs which do not conform to the above mentioned requirements;
- trade marks which are devoid of any distinctive character;
- trade marks which consist exclusively of signs or indications which may serve, in trade, to designate the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin or the time of production of the goods or of rendering of the service, or other characteristics of the goods or service;
- trade marks which consist exclusively of signs or indications which have become customary in the current language or in the bona fide and established practices of the trade;
- signs which consist exclusively of the shape, or another characteristic, which results from the nature of the goods themselves; the shape, or another characteristic, of goods which is necessary to obtain a technical result; the shape, or another characteristic, which gives substantial value to the goods;
- trade marks which are contrary to public policy or to accepted principles of morality;
- trade marks which are of such a nature as to deceive the public, for instance as to the nature, quality or geographical origin of the goods or service;
- trade marks which have not been authorised by the competent authorities and are to be refused;
- trade marks which include badges, emblems and which are of particular public interest, unless the consent of the competent authority to their registration has been given;
- trade marks which are excluded from registration, pursuant to Union legislation or national law or to international agreements to which the Union or the Member State concerned is party, providing for protection of designations of origin and geographical indications;
- trade marks which are excluded from registration pursuant to Union legislation or international agreements to which the Union is party, providing for protection of traditional terms for wine and providing for protection of traditional specialities guaranteed;
- trade marks which consist of, or reproduce in their essential elements, an earlier plant variety denomination registered in accordance with Union legislation or national law, or international agreements to which the Union or the Member State concerned is a party, providing for protection of plant variety rights, and which are in respect of plant varieties of the same or closely related species.
Upon opposition by the proprietor of an earlier trade mark, the trade mark applied for shall not be registered
- if it is identical with the earlier trade mark and the goods or services for which registration is applied for are identical with the goods or services for which the earlier trade mark is protected;
- if, because of its identity with, or similarity to, the earlier trade mark and the identity or similarity of the goods or services covered by the trade marks there exists a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public in the territory in which the earlier trade mark is protected; the likelihood of confusion includes the likelihood of association with the earlier trade mark;
An EU trade mark shall have a unitary character. It shall have equal effect throughout the Union: it shall not be registered, transferred or surrendered or be the subject of a decision revoking the rights of the proprietor or declaring it invalid, nor shall its use be prohibited, save in respect of the whole Union.
What can be registered as an EU Trade Mark?
- A word mark consists exclusively of words or letters, numerals, other standard typographic characters or a combination thereof that can be typed.
- A Figurative mark It is a trade mark where non-standard characters, stylisation or layout, or a graphic feature or a colour are used, including marks that consist exclusively of figurative elements. A figurative mark consisting of a combination of verbal and figurative elements.
- A shape mark consists of, or extends to, a three-dimensional shape. It can include containers, packaging, the product itself or its appearance. A shape mark that contains verbal elements.
- A position mark consists of the specific way in which the mark is placed or affixed to the product.
- A pattern mark consists exclusively of a set of elements which are repeated regularly.
- A colour mark is just that – a trade mark which consists exclusively of a single colour. A trade mark which consists exclusively of a combination of colours.
- A sound mark consists exclusively of a sound or a combination of sounds.
- A motion mark consisting of, or extends to, a movement or a change in the position of the elements of a mark.
- A multimedia mark it consists exclusively of, or extends to, the combination of images and sound.
- A hologram mark consists of elements with holographic characteristics.
An EU trade mark can consist of any signs, in particular words (including personal names), or designs, letters, numerals, colours, the shape of goods, or of the packaging of goods or sounds.
Benefits of registering a European Union trade mark
- A single registration —in one language — is valid in all EU Member States;
- Protects your brand value in all EU Member States;
- Builds an asset in all EU Member States;
- Defends against rival marks in all EU Member States;
- Defines your rights in all EU Member States;
- Prevents counterfeiting and fraud in all EU Member States;
- The EU trade mark gives its owner an exclusive right in all current and future EU Member States at a reasonable cost;
- You can enforce your trade mark in a market of almost 500 million consumers;
- An EU trade mark is valid for 10 years. It can be renewed indefinitely, 10 years at a time for each renewal;
- EU trade marks give protection in all Member States of the Union, for those who want that option.
Rights conferred by an EU trade mark
The registration of an EU trade mark shall confer on the proprietor exclusive rights therein.
Without prejudice to the rights of proprietors acquired before the filing date or the priority date of the EU trade mark, the proprietor of that EU trade mark shall be entitled to prevent all third parties not having his consent from using in the course of trade, in relation to goods or services, any sign where:
- the sign is identical with the EU trade mark and is used in relation to goods or services which are identical with those for which the EU trade mark is registered;
- the sign is identical with, or similar to, the EU trade mark and is used in relation to goods or services which are identical with, or similar to, the goods or services for which the EU trade mark is registered, if there exists a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public; the likelihood of confusion includes the likelihood of association between the sign and the trade mark;
- the sign is identical with, or similar to, the EU trade mark irrespective of whether it is used in relation to goods or services which are identical with, similar to or not similar to those for which the EU trade mark is registered, where the latter has a reputation in the Union and where use of that sign without due cause takes unfair advantage of, or is detrimental to, the distinctive character or the repute of the EU trade mark.
An EU trade mark shall not entitle the proprietor to prohibit a third party from using, in the course of trade the name or address of the third party, where that third party is a natural person , signs or indications which are not distinctive or which concern the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin, the time of production of goods or of rendering of the service, or other characteristics of the goods or services , the EU trade mark for the purpose of identifying or referring to goods or services as those of the proprietor of that trade mark, in particular, where the use of that trade mark is necessary to indicate the intended purpose of a product or service, in particular as accessories or spare parts. An EU trade mark shall also not entitle the proprietor to prohibit its use in relation to goods which have been put on the market in the European Economic Area under that trade mark by the proprietor or with his consent.
If, within a period of five years following registration, the proprietor has not put the EU trade mark to genuine use in the Union in connection with the goods or services in respect of which it is registered, or if such use has been suspended during an uninterrupted period of five years, the EU trade mark shall be subject to the sanctions provided for in this Regulation, unless there are proper reasons for non-use.
EU trade marks shall be registered for a period of 10 years from the date of filing of the application. Registration may be renewed for further periods of 10 years.
A legal practitioner qualified in one of the Member States of the European Economic Area and having his place of business within the European Economic Area, to the extent that he is entitled, within the said Member State, to act as a representative in trade mark matters and professional representatives whose names appear on the list maintained for this purpose by the Office.