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The EU Referendum: what it means for trade marks

The EU Referendum: what it means for trade marks

As June’s EU Referendum is everywhere, I thought it would be useful to take a look at one of the great benefits that UK businesses have as a result of their membership of the EU, namely the Community Trade Mark (“CTM”).

A CTM provides protection across all member states of the European Union in a single registration. CTMs are dealt with by a Registry located in Alicante, Spain. The CTM system is phenomenally successful, and saw around 105,000 applications filed only last year.

If your business has a sole UK presence, then a national registration is for you. If, however, you do business in more than one EU country, the CTM system comes into its own.

Here are five good reasons why:

1) CTMs are great value

The official fees in relation to a CTM application in three classes are currently 900 Euros, with 150 Euros per additional class filed at the same time. This is a significantly lower cost than filing separate national applications. If the EU expands to cover a new country, your CTM is automatically extended.

The upshot is that your business can gain an exclusive right in all current and future Member States of the European Union, across a market of almost 500 million consumers, for the price of a pint of milk a day.

2) Ease of admin

Applications may be filed online in any language of the EU. When renewal falls due after ten years, there is only one right to be dealt with, as opposed to a bundle of national rights.

National rights may be allowed to lapse, in order to rely on the CTM, by claiming “seniority” and thereby saving fees on renewal. Licences and assignments may be recorded in one place.

All this lowering of the administrative burden saves your business time and money.

3) Fast results

A CTM may be registered very quickly. Fast Track applications can be filed. These cost the same as standard applications, and yet are processed in less than half the usual time taken. Certain additional requirements must be met, though these are not onerous for most businesses.

Some Fast Track applications are published in less than a week, meaning that registration can be achieved in under five or six months. This compares very favourably with many countries. For example, in Brazil, on average it takes 43 months just to reach examination.

4) It’s not over till it’s over

A CTM is “unitary” in nature. Therefore, if another trade mark proprietor has a national right in an EU country, they may be able to attack a CTM in its entirety. However, in such circumstances it is possible to “convert” the application to national applications in those countries where the prior right does not exist. Registration can still be gained in some form, so all is not lost.

5) You don’t have to live here

There are no requirements for the CTM proprietor to be a national of the EU, or to live or have an office in the EU. A CTM may be filed by a national of any country, though if it runs into problems, a representative with an EU address is necessary *smiles winningly*.

The British Chambers of Commerce says that 55% of members back staying in a reformed EU. From a trade mark point of view – and as a proud European Trade Mark Attorney – I resoundingly endorse that.
For further information about Ward Trade Marks, please email Bill Ward: [email protected], or call Bill Ward on 01223 421779.

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February 25, 2016 Rachael share this article