Information / European Union trademarks

Territory

Registration protects the trademark in the entire territory of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Community trademarksRomania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden (for a total of 4,326,000 square kilometers and 446 million inhabitants).

Registrable Trademarks

All signs (word, device or shape) capable of being graphically represented and fulfilling the requirements of novelty, distinctiveness and lawfulness are registrable trademarks. Sounds, color combinations or a particular shade of color are also registrable.

Trademark Categories

Trademarks for products or services, collective trademarks and three-dimensional trademarks are trademark categories.

Priority

In accordance with the Paris Convention, it is possible to claim the priority of an earlier national filing within 6 months. A first application for a European Union trademark can be the basis of a priority claim when subsequent applications are filed for the same trademark in other states party to the Paris Convention.

Who May Apply for a European Union Trademark

Any natural or legal person, including authorities established under public law, may be the proprietor of a European Union trademark.

Trademark Attorneys

Applicants may only be represented professionally by qualified trademark attorneys enrolled in a special list held by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), or by attorneys-at-law.

Where to File the Application

Applications can be filed at the EUIPO  based in Alicante (Spain) or at the Italian Patent and Trademark Office or at a national patent office of any European Union member state.

The Trademark Application

The application for registration of a European Union trademark can be filed regardless of whether a prior national trademark exists.

Effects of the Application

A European Union trademark enjoys full protection only after the actual registration. Before registration, and as from the publication of the application, the trademark enjoys limited protection which does however enable the applicant to obtain interim injunctions and bring proceedings for counterfeiting or to request reasonable compensation, although decisions in such proceedings will be issued only after the registration of the trademark.

Prior Registrations

It is possible to claim seniority of one or more national prior registrations obtained in member states of the European Union, either at the time the application is filed, or within 2 months of filing, or after registration.

Official Languages

The official languages to be used before the EUIPO are French, English, Italian, Spanish and German.

Examination

The EUIPO carries out an examination of distinctiveness, lawfulness and lack of deceptiveness.

Publication of the Application

Applications are published in the European Union Trademark Bulletin after the searches have been completed.

Opposition

Within 3 months of the publication of the European Union trademark application, third parties who own rights to a prior identical or similar trademark may, under certain conditions, file an opposition against the trademark’s registration.

Registration

If the application is not opposed by third parties or denied, or if opposition is rejected, the European Union trademark registration is granted.

Rights Conferred by the Registration

The registration of a European Union trademark gives the owner the right to exclusive use of the trademark in the entire European Union territory.

Classification

The international classification of goods and services (Nice Agreement) applies. Each application may include more than one class of goods and/or services.

Duration and Renewals

A European Union trademark registration has a duration of 10 years running from the filing date. An indefinite number of renewals is possible for subsequent 10-year periods.

Use of a Registered Trademark

Lack of use of a registered trademark in the European Union continued for 5 years following its registration can cause the registration to lapse.

Incontestability

The owner of a prior trademark who has knowingly tolerated the use of a later European Union trademark for a period of 5 or more consecutive years can no longer request that the later mark be declared invalid or oppose its use.

Assignment

Assignment of a European Union trademark is permitted only for the entire territory of the European Union. However, the trademark may be assigned for only part of the goods and/or services.

Licensing

Licensing is permitted for all or part of the European Union’s territory and for all or part of the goods and/or services.

Marking

The use of symbols indicating that the trademark has been filed or is registered is optional.

Conversion into a National Trademark

If the application for a European Union trademark is not accepted, or is annulled or revoked after registration for reasons pertaining to only one or some European Union states, conversion of the application into national applications in the remaining states is possible, under certain conditions.

Customs Protection

The registration of a European Union trademark gives the owner the right to request customs protection, involving the seizure of counterfeit products at customs.

Applicable International Agreements

The Paris Convention and the TRIPs Agreement (World Trade Organization members).