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Changes to Trade Mark Registration in 2014

Thursday, 18 April 2013

On 27 March 2013 the European Commission announced proposed changes to current trade mark registration systems all over Europe. These changes will make the process of registering trade marks quicker, cheaper and more reliable.

The Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michael Barnier has commented, “There is no need for a major overhaul: the foundations of our system remain perfectly valid. What we are aiming for is a well-targeted modernisation…”

Proposal Objectives

The harmonisation of trademarks in the EU occurred over 20 years ago, with community trade marks and national trademarks working side by side for over 15 years. The proposed reforms will try and eradicate inconsistencies between the regulation of national trademarks and those used at a pan-European level. More specifically the objectives of the proposals are to:

  • Streamline and harmonise registration procedures within the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) and national registries;
  • Improve the legislation by amending out-dated provisions, removing ambiguities, clarifying trademark rights in terms of their scope and limitations, and incorporating European case law;
  • Improving provisions for combating counterfeit goods within the EU; and
  • Facilitating co-operation between national registries.

Significant Changes

One of the most significant changes proposed is the removal of the need for a trademark to be represented graphically; it recognises that not all brands can be depicted physically, such as sound files. This could open the floodgates to applications trying to push the boundaries of what can be registered.

Another significant proposal is to change the fee structure for applying for a trademark: currently the fee for applying for a trademark is based on the requirement that it must be registered for up to three product classes. The new system allows for a “one class-per-fee” system which makes it cheaper to apply for and to renew a trademark. This will please small and medium sized business owners who can apply for trademarks within a single class which more specifically matches its needs and makes the application process cheaper.

Counterfeit Goods

The commission has also proposed that trademark owners will be able to prevent the importation of counterfeit goods into the EU even if the goods are not going to be released for sale inside the EU. The measures that the commission are proposing to combat counterfeit goods will help to appease worries of trademark owners and make it easier for them to protect their goods.


The commission also plans on renaming OHIM the ‘European Union Trade Marks and Design Agency’ as well as renaming the Community Trademark the ‘European Trademark’. The proposals will now by passed onto the European Parliament and the Council for adoption under the ordinary legislative procedure and the Commission hopes the proposals will be implemented by spring 2014.

If you would like more information about the registration or protection of trademarks, Rollingsons has experienced lawyers who can assist you. For more information please contact James Crichton via e-mail or by telephone on 0207 611 4848.