New EU Trade Mark Regulation

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Today, the latest changes to the EU trademark system become effective. They are:

1. Graphical Representation Unnecessary

The graphical representation requirement no longer applies for trademark applications submitted on or after October 1, 2017. This means that, from that date, marks “can be represented in any appropriate form using generally available technology, as long as the representation is clear, precise, self-contained, easily accessible, intelligible, durable and objective.”

In other words, ‘what you see is what you get.’  Sounds and colors are now explicitly registrable.

2. EU Certification Marks

This is a new type of mark at the EU level, although some member states had allowed certification marks at the national level before the new rules. This type of mark makes possible for a certifying entity to permit third parties to adhere to the certification system to use the mark as a sign for goods and services, as long as they comply with the certification requirements.

In other words, a EU certification mark guarantees specific characteristics of certain goods or services. It indicates that the goods and services bearing the mark comply with a certain set of standards controlled under the responsibility of the certification mark owner. The regulations of use need to contain, among other things, the testing and supervision measures to be applied by the certification mark owner.

EU certification mark comes with two important restrictions: 1) the owner of a certification mark is precluded from using the mark for the certified goods or services covered, and 2) the mark cannot be filed for the purpose of distinguishing goods or services certified in respect of the geographical origin.

A certification mark costs EUR 1,500 if applied for by electronic means.

3. Procedural Changes

There are changes that have to do with the filing of priority, the enforcement of acquired distinctiveness, online substantiation, languages and appeals. Evidence can be submitted via the databases of the national and regional EU IP offices, and TMview is acceptable as a portal through which the national offices may be ‘accessed’. Most types of evidence can continue to be filed in any official language of the EU. The new rules require priority claims to be included in the application at the time of submission. The disputes must be brought before the national courts but the member states have until January 2019 to implement appropriate rules.

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