Trademark Registration in EU: What You Need to Know
A trademark is a sign that identifies your products or services from those of your competitors. It can be a word, a logo, a shape, a color, a sound, or a combination of these elements. A trademark is part of your intellectual property and is crucial to your success as a business. It helps you build your reputation, attract customers, and prevent counterfeiting and fraud.
If you want to protect your trademark in the European Union (EU), you have two options: you can either register it as a national trademark in each member state where you want protection, or you can registrovať it as a European Union trademark (EUTM) with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). A EUTM gives you protection in all 27 EU countries with one single application and one single fee.
Benefits of Registering a EUTM
Registering a EUTM has many advantages over registering national trademarks in each EU country. Some of the benefits are:
- Simplicity: You only need to file one application in one language and pay one fee to get protection in all 27 EU countries. You also only need to deal with one office (EUIPO) for the registration and maintenance of your trademark.
- Cost-effectiveness: You save time and money by avoiding multiple applications, translations, fees, and legal representatives in different countries. The basic fee for an individual EUTM is €850 for one class of goods or services, €50 for the second class, and €150 for each additional class. A collective EUTM (for associations or organizations) or a certification EUTM (for marks that certify certain characteristics of goods or services) costs €1500 for one class, €50 for the second class, and €150 for each additional class.
- Flexibility: You can choose to designate all or some of the EU countries for your EUTM protection. You can also convert your EUTM into national trademarks in any of the EU countries if you wish to do so.
- Uniformity: You have the same rights and obligations in all EU countries under one single legal system. You can enforce your EUTM against infringers in any EU country or seek EU-wide injunctions.
- Exclusivity: You have the exclusive right to use your EUTM for the goods or services for which it is registered in the EU. You can also prevent others from using identical or similar signs that may cause confusion among consumers.
Requirements for Registering a EUTM
To register a EUTM, you need to meet certain requirements:
- Distinctiveness: Your trademark must be distinctive, meaning that it must be capable of distinguishing your goods or services from those of others. Generic, descriptive, or common terms are not distinctive and cannot be registered as trademarks.
- Availability: Your trademark must be available, meaning that it must not conflict with any prior rights of others. Before applying, you should conduct a search to make sure that your trademark is not identical or similar to any existing trademarks, trade names, domain names, or other signs that may have rights in the EU.
- Lawfulness: Your trademark must be lawful, meaning that it must not violate any laws or public policy. For example, you cannot register trademarks that are deceptive, offensive, contrary to morality, or against public order.
How to Apply for a EUTM
To apply for a EUTM, you need to follow these steps:
- Prepare your application: You need to provide information about yourself (the applicant), your trademark (the sign), and the goods or services for which you want protection (the classes). You also need to choose the language of your application (one of the 23 official languages of the EU) and the language of the proceedings (one of the five working languages of EUIPO: English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish).
- File your application: You can file your application online through EUIPO’s website 1, by fax, by post, or through an intermediary (such as an IP professional). You need to pay the application fee within one month of filing.
- Wait for examination: After receiving your application, EUIPO will examine it to check whether it meets the formal and substantive requirements for registration. If there are any deficiencies or objections, EUIPO will inform you and give you a chance to correct them or respond to them. If there are no issues or if you overcome them, EUIPO will publish your application in the EU Trade Mark Bulletin.
- Wait for opposition: After publication, your application enters a three-month opposition period, during which any third party can oppose your registration if they have a prior right that may be affected by your trademark. If there is an opposition, EUIPO will notify you and give you an opportunity to defend your trademark or reach a settlement with the opponent. If there is no opposition or if you win the opposition, EUIPO will register your trademark and issue a registration certificate.
- Enjoy your protection: Your EUTM registration is valid for 10 years from the date of filing and can be renewed indefinitely for further 10-year periods. You can use your trademark in the EU or license it to others. You can also monitor and enforce your trademark against any infringers or invalidity actions.
Registering the EUTM is a smart way to protect your trademark in the EU. It gives you a simple, cost-effective, flexible, uniform, and exclusive right to use your trademark for the goods or services for which it is registered in all 27 EU countries. To register a EUTM, you need to make sure that your trademark is distinctive, available, and lawful, and file an application with EUIPO. You also need to be prepared to face any possible oppositions or challenges to your registration. Consult IP professional to know how to avoid these challenges and to maximalize your chances of obtaining successful registration of your EU Ochranná známka.