European Union trademarks

Territory

The Community trademark, established by Regulation no. 40/94 of the EC Council, is a unitary trademark valid throughout the 27 countries of the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden).

Trademarks that can be registered

Any new trademark capable of being represented graphically may be registered as a trademark, providing it meets the requirements of novelty, distinctiveness and lawfulness, including names, drawings, letters, figures, sounds, three-dimensional trademarks, combinations of colors or specific shades.

Applicants

Anyone with an interest in a trademark may apply for one, including public law bodies and minors.

Filing of application

The Office checks the meeting of formal requirements and examines whether there are any absolute grounds for rejecting the application; the trademark application is then published.

Opposition

Within 3 months of publication, any party who believes he or she has rights to that trademark or believes that the registration threatens prior rights may file a notice of opposition.

Duration and renewal

Registration shall be granted for a period of 10 years as from the application filing date, and may be renewed indefinitely for further 10-year periods.

Right of priority

An applicant or holder of a Community trademark who is already the holder of an identical prior national trademark for identical goods and services may claim the right of priority. This allows the proprietor to retain his/her earlier rights even if it surrenders its national trademark or does not renew it.

Priority

Within 6 months of filing a trademark, it is possible to claim priority for a prior national filing.

Classification of goods and services

The international classification of goods and services (Nice Classification) consists of a list of goods and services for trademark registration; it is divided into 45 classes. There are 34 classes of goods and 11 classes of services.

A Community trademark application that has not been rejected or opposed shall be granted.

Duration and renewal

Registration shall be granted for a period of 10 years as from the application filing date, and may be renewed indefinitely for further 10-year periods.

Use of registered trademark

The registered trademark must be used within 5 years of its filing, otherwise it will be cancelled.

The Community trademark can be maintained in all countries of the European Union by making serious and effective use thereof even in only one member State.

Incontestability

The proprietor of a trademark who for a period of 5 years has allowed the use of a trademark subsequent to its registration may not ask for said trademark to be declared null and void, nor oppose its use.

Transfers and licensing

The trademark may be transferred or licensed in relation to all or a part of the goods/services for which it was registered.

Conversion into a national trademark

Should a Community trademark application be turned down, or be revoked or canceled even in only one of the 27 countries of the European Union after its registration, it is possible – under certain conditions – to convert it into a national trademark application in other countries where it has not been rejected.

Customs protection

Both trademarks still in the application stage and trademarks already registered entitle their holder to apply for customs protection. In other words, the proprietor of a trademark may request the seizure of goods deemed to infringe his/her rights directly from customs.

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