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EU Trade Mark Reforms – What does it mean for business?

The much anticipated and long awaited EU trade mark reform legislative package was published on 24 December 2015 announcing major changes to the Community Trade Mark (CTM) system which will come into effect from 23 March 2016. The reform package will also introduce measures allowing further harmonisation of the national trade mark laws for the 28 EU Member States during the next few years. These reforms are the first major overhaul of the CTM system since its introduction in 1996, a system that has gone from strength to strength in use and importance over the last 20 years, and present a number of important changes that all users of the system should familiarise themselves with. Key drivers to these reforms have been the desire to foster innovation, to provide for greater access through fee reductions and to continue to drive for consistency, certainty and fairness through harmonisation. To summarise, a CTM will become an EUTM, the OHIM will become the EUIPO and the other key points of note are:

  • Fee amendments for both applications and renewals, the introduction of separate fees for all classes and the removal of the ‘three for one’ class fee benefit. Applications in three or more classes will benefit from the current fee structure if filed before 23 March 2016;
  • A change in practice to the interpretation of identification of goods and services, which affects existing registrations. Brand owners with EUTMs filed before June 2012 should check if they cover Nice class headings and determine if any clarification of goods/services are required;
  • Clarification on proof of use Brand owners with EUTMs but without pan-European use of their trade marks should consider supplementing their portfolios with national registrations in European countries of use;
  • Benefit of EUTMs in seizing counterfeit goods in transit through the EU.

Detailed commentary and guidance on all key changes can be found at the following link and all Barker Brettell attorneys are available to give additional guidance on these reforms.