Reform of EU trade mark law - where are we now?

Reform of EU trade mark law - where are we now?

Following the publication of proposals for European trade mark law reform in June 2015, what are the key changes ahead and when are they likely to come into force?

Why is the EU trade mark system being reformed?

The purpose of the reforms is to foster a European trade mark system that is more efficient, cost-effective, accessible and predictable than the current regime. In addition, the reforms are intended to improve harmonisation across trade mark regimes throughout the EU and better co-operation between the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) and national trade mark offices.The unitary Community trade mark (CTM) was introduced over 15 years ago but there has not been any subsequent meaningful reform while the IP landscape and needs of businesses have changed dramatically.

What are the latest developments?

After two years of discussion and negotiation between EU institutions, there is a provisional agreement on European trade mark reform in the form of a draft regulation and draft directive (see below).

On 21 April 2015, the EU Presidency reached a provisional agreement with the European Parliament on reform of the European trade mark regime. On 10 June 2015, the European Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) approved a compromise agreement which will overhaul existing Community trade law:

  1.  Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament amending Council Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 on the Community trade mark (the draft Regulation)
  2. Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council to approximate the laws of the member states relating to trade marks (Recast)

What are the key reforms?

Terminology

The CTM will become the ‘European Union trade mark’ and OHIM will become the ‘European Union Intellectual Property Office’. These names are thought to be more self-explanatory than the current terminology.

Filing and fees

CTM applicants will no longer have a month in which to pay the fee after filing an application. Instead the fee will be payable upon filing.

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