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EU trademark deal welcome step forward for SMEs

Posted by Nick Prag at 23 April 2015, 17:05 CET |

It has taken two years of inter-institutional discussions, but on Tuesday the EU's Latvian Presidency reached provisional political agreement with European Parliament representatives on reform of the European trade mark system.

EU trademark deal welcome step forward for SMEs

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The reform package is expected to improve conditions for businesses to innovate and to benefit from more effective trade mark protection against counterfeits, including fake goods in transit through EU territory.

The measures include:

  • lower fees for EU trade marks covering all 28 Member States – bringing savings of up to 37%, in particular for businesses that want protection of their registered EU trade marks beyond an initial period of 10 years;
  • more efficient registration procedures across all trade mark offices in the EU – particularly helpful to SMEs looking to roll out their business beyond one Member State
  • and a strengthening of the means to fight against counterfeits in particular of goods in transit through EU territory.

National trade mark registration in the EU Member States has been harmonised for over 20 years, while the Community trade mark was created more than 15 years ago.

EU trade mark legislation consists of the Trade Mark Directive - which ensures national trade marks are subject to the same conditions when registered at Member States’ intellectual property offices and enjoy the same protection, and the Community Trade Mark Regulation which created the first EU-wide intellectual property rights, the Community trade mark, granted by the EU Trade mark Agency, the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM), in Alicante, Spain.

Reform can be seen as significant help to companies, particularly SMEs, as it creates a clearer, more streamlined and affordable registration system for the handling and protection of their innovative industrial assets.

A modernised and more efficient legal trade mark framework also contributes to economic performance and employment, as Internal Market Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said: “This will promote entrepreneurship and competitiveness, which is good news for Europe. And we will be better equipped to stop the flow of counterfeit products effectively."

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.