EU Institutions agree on the European trade mark reform package



After two years of inter-institutional discussions, the European Commission, the Parliament and the Council of Ministers have reached a provisional political agreement on the European trade mark reform package.

The reform of the current system seeks to encourage innovation and economic growth by making trade mark registration systems all over the European Union more accessible and efficient for businesses in terms of lower costs and complexity, increased speed, greater predictability and legal certainty. The legislative package also aims to improve the conditions for businesses to benefit from better protection against counterfeits, including fake goods in transit through the territory of the European Union.

Some key points of the reform are as follows:

  • More streamlined, efficient and harmonised registration procedure across all trade mark offices in the European Union;
  • Lower fees for Community trade mark applications and renewals under new “one-class-per-fee” rules (savings of up to 37%);
  • Better means to fight against counterfeit goods in transit through the EU countries to prevent abuse of the EU as a distribution hub for illegal fake goods to world-wide destinations; and
  • Renaming of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) in Alicante to “European Union Intellectual Property Office”.

The provisional agreement also foresees closer cooperation between national offices and the OHIM in projects to promote convergence of practices and tools in the field of trade marks and designs. The reform also includes mechanisms to finance such cooperation between the EU trademark offices.

The agreement reached under the Latvian presidency is still subject to confirmation by the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Council before being put to a vote in the Parliament (which could happen in September 2015). A full text of the provisional agreement will become available in the coming weeks.

Whilst many of the changes are to be warmly welcomed, the institutions could arguably have been bolder on certain aspects of the package, to make the European Union trade mark system one that is truly fit for business in the 21st Century.