European Commission Proposes First Significant Changes to Community Trademark System in over 15 Years

The European Commission recently issued draft legislation proposing to make the first significant changes to the European Union (“EU”) system of trademark protection since the establishment of the Community Trademark (“CTM”) system in 1998 (the “Commission’s Proposal”). If adopted, the proposed changes will have notable effects for brand owners in the areas of registration and opposition procedures and the fight against counterfeit goods, and will introduce a more flexible structure for registration and renewal fees. Member States will also be required to make changes in their national laws to harmonise procedures among Member States for examination, opposition, and cancellation proceedings.

Current System for Protection of Trademarks in the EU -

In the EU, trademarks can be registered either at the national level with the industrial property offices of Member States or at the EU level as a CTM at the EU Agency – Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (“OHIM”). The CTM system enables the trademark applicant to receive an exclusive right throughout all of the currently 27 EU Member States through a single registration procedure at OHIM. CTM registration is a natural choice for companies with EU-wide activities, whereas national registrations are preferred by smaller, nationally functioning entities.

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