European trademark law is currently undergoing the biggest reform since the introduction of the Community trademark system in 1996. On 15 December 2015, the European Parliament approved a Reform Package consisting of an amended European Union Trademark Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2015/2424) and a new Trademarks Directive (Directive (EU) 2015/2436). This bundle of new laws, referred to as EU Trademark Reform Package, brings changes not only to Community trademarks but also to owners of national trademarks in the EU.
The approved reform package is the result of almost three years of inter-institutional debate. The revised laws are intended to make EU trademark law fit for the challenges of business in the 21st Century, for example by making the registration of trademarks cheaper, quicker and more reliable for firms. Not surprisingly, it contains a wide range of innovations. Whereas some changes are primarily technical, there are others that can have huge impact on trademark owners. The amendments cover inter alia the following areas:
- The current fee structure for Community Trademarks is changed into a One-Class-System and a new Fee Schedule is applied.
- The Office for the Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) is renamed into European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), an updated version of the Guidelines for Examination enters into force and what was known as Community trade mark is called European Union trademark (EUTM).
- The regulation also affects 'broad' specifications of goods and services of Community trademarks which cover 'class heading' terms, a topic that has undergone substantial discussions since the IP Translator case of the CJEU.
- There are also changes concerning the seizure of counterfeit goods which are in transit through the EU. A seizure will become possible even in cases where the goods were not meant for the EU, unless they would not be infringing in the country of their final destination. The respective burden of proof will be shifted towards the alleged infringer.
- Non-traditional trademarks will be registered more easily since the requirement to represent the mark 'graphically' will no longer apply.
A number of changes have been implemented already or will be in the next few months. Other amendments will be transposed over time, in particular those contained in the new Trademarks Directive (Directive ((EU) 2015/2436).
This section is DLA Piper's hub for information relating to the EU Trademark Reform. It provides information and background information on the reform, updates you on the implementation of the changes and provides the latest news and developments in connection with the Trademark Reform.