Business

What is a trade mark?

Trade mark is a mark used in trade to identify products.

Your trade mark differentiates your products from everyone else’s. You protect your trade mark when you register it.

The main condition for a registered trade mark is its clear definition; otherwise no one will be sure of what it covers.

What are the benefits of registering a trade mark?

It protects your brand value

It creates an asset and defines your rights

It protects against competitor trade marks

It prevents counterfeiting and fraud

What are the requirements for a trade mark?

You choose different types of trade marks depending on what you want to protect (word, shape, color, etc.).

Trade mark must distinguish the goods and services of one producer from the goods and services of another producer.

To be eligible for registration, your trade mark must be different from others and must not describe what you are selling.

Consumers should be able to recognize your trade mark. It should differentiate you from other companies in the market.

Your trade mark should not monopolize a mark that simply describes the products and/or services that you offer. Such marks should remain accessible to everyone.

What trade marks can you register in the European Union?

An EU trade mark may consist of any signs, in particular words (including personal names) or drawings, letters, numbers, colors, shapes or packaging of goods or sounds.

As long as your trade mark falls into one of the trade mark categories adopted by the Office and can be presented in accepted formats, you can file it as an application without graphical presentation.

Word mark

It consists exclusively of words or letters, numerals, other standard typographic characters or a combination thereof that can be typed.

Figurative mark

It consists of non-standard characters, stylization or layout, or where a graphic feature or a color are used, including marks that consist exclusively of figurative elements.

Figurative mark containing word elements *

It consists of a combination of verbal and figurative elements.

Shape mark

It consists of, or extends to, a three-dimensional shape. It can include containers, packaging, the product itself or its appearance.

Shape mark containing word elements*

Position mark

It performs a specific way in which the mark is placed or affixed to the product.

Pattern mark

It consists exclusively of a set of elements which are repeated regularly.

Color (single) mark

It`s a trade mark which consists exclusively of a single color (without contours).                                         

Color (combination) mark

It consists exclusively of a combination of colors (without contours)

Sound mark

It consists exclusively of a sound or a combination of sounds.                                                      

Motion mark

It consists of, or extends to, a movement or a change in the position of the elements of a mark.                                             

Multimedia mark

It consists of, or extends to, the combination of images and sound.                                                     

Hologram mark

It`s a new category of trade mark (since 1 October 2017). It consist of elements with holographic characteristics. 

*Note: These trade mark types are not separate categories under the EU trade mark Implementing Regulation. They are however differentiated in the e-filing for practical and technical reasons.

What is a four-tier system for registering trade marks?

There is a four-tier system for registering trade marks in the EU. Your choice depends on the needs of your business.

If you want to protect your trade mark just in one EU Member State (where your business is based at the moment, or where you want to trade), you can file a trade mark application directly at the relevant national intellectual property office. It`s the national route.

If you want to protect your trade mark in Belgium, the Netherlands and/or Luxembourg, you can file an application to the Benelux Office of Intellectual Property (BOIP), the only regional-level intellectual property office in the EU, for trade mark protection in those three Member States. It`s the regional route.

If you want to protect your trade mark in more Member States of the EU, you can apply for an EU trade mark from EUIPO. It`s the European route.

An online application at EUIPO costs €850 and is filed in just one language. EUIPO checks and processes your application, and once registered, your trade mark can be renewed indefinitely every 10 years. EU trade marks give protection in all Member States of the Union.

The fourth route to protection in the EU is the international route. You can use your national, regional or EU trade mark application to expand your protection internationally, to any country that is a signatory of the Madrid Protocol.

What is EUIPO?

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), which was known as OHIM until 23 March 2016, is responsible for managing the EU trade mark and the registered Community design. EUIPO also works with the intellectual property offices of the EU Member States and international partners to offer a similar registration experience for trade marks and designs in Europe and in the world. EUIPO can provide you with exclusive rights for trade mark and design protection throughout the European Union (EU) with just a single application.

The EUIPO works in partnership with national and regional EU intellectual property offices, user groups, the European Commission, the European Parliament and other international organizations.

What are the benefits of registering a European Union trade mark?

A single registration filed online in one language is valid in all EU member states. The EU trade mark gives you an exclusive right in all current and future EU Member States at a reasonable cost and it is valid for 10 years. It means that you can promote your trade mark in a market with nearly 500 million consumers. You can renew it indefinitely, 10 years at a time for each renewal.

What kinds of trade mark can be registered?

You can register 3 kinds of trade mark:

Individual trade mark distinguishes the goods and services of one single company or person from the goods and services of another one. It does not mean that a single trade mark should belong to one company or person: individual trade mark can belong to one or more legal entities or individuals. It means that there are several applicants.

The basic registration fee starts at € 850 (electronic means)

Collective trade mark distinguishes the goods and services of a group of companies or members of an association from the goods and services of competitors. They can be used to build consumer confidence in the products or services offered under the collective mark. Quite often they are used to identify products which share a certain characteristic.

Only associations of manufacturers, producers, suppliers of services or traders, as well as legal persons governed by public law, may apply for collective marks.

The application fee is EUR 1 500 (electronic means).

Certification trade mark (introduced at EUIPO on 1 October 2017) is a new type of trade mark at EU level, although it has already existed for many years at national level. This kind of trade mark is used to indicate that goods or services comply with the certification requirements of a certifying institution or organization; it`s a sign of supervised quality.

Any natural or legal person, including institutions, authorities and bodies governed by public law, may apply for EU certification marks provided that such person does not carry on a business involving the supply of goods or services of the kind certified.

The application fee is EUR 1 500 (electronic means).

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