The European Union protects intellectual property rights through legislation and judicial decisions.
To help brand protection, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) administers the EU Trade Mark and the registered Community design.
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While they apply throughout the European Union, you can also register national trademarks. The protection enables rights holders to prevent exploitation and receive compensation and for consumers to identify the origin of goods.
Intellectual property protection in the EU
To protect your intellectual property in the EU, you should have an intellectual property (IP) protection strategy in place.
Consider your protection, including trademarks, patents, designs, geographical indications, and trade secrets. Then, make decisions about the best way to register your intellectual property in the EU to get EU protection and/or gain IP protection under national laws.
Remember that IP is territorial, so a trademark registration in the US, for example, does not grant trademark protection in the EU, and EU registration does not protect your brand in China.
What is brand protection in the EU?
Intellectual property can be one of your company’s most valuable assets. Brand protection helps to protect intellectual property against infringements, such as counterfeiting and patent abuse.
Your brand can help you sell your products or services, gain customer loyalty, and grow. Therefore, brand protection helps to prevent more than the loss of revenue. It protects trust, reputation, and growth.
Why online brand protection?
The online ecosystem has changed many aspects of life and business, and it drastically altered the way we shop. This change in shopping behaviors has created opportunities as well as challenges.
E-commerce has made it easier to target and confuse consumers, sell counterfeits, and abuse brands.
Online marketplaces, social commerce, live streaming, B2B exchanges – have all made IP infringements more prevalent than ever.
Counterfeits are no longer confined to specific geographical locations. Instead, e-commerce channels allow access to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Consumers, on their part, often expect the authentic brands to protect them from counterfeiters and other cybercrimes.
Online brand protection is crucial so you can benefit fully from your brand, both online and offline.
Trademark protection is brand protection
Trademark registration is a highly effective way to build and protect a brand. A registered trademark gives you exclusive rights over the trademark so no one else can use it without authorization.
Trademarks are usually words, logos, colors, patterns, or other distinctive features. They identify the origin of goods or services and distinguish your goods or services from others.
Apply for registration of your name, symbol, logo, slogan, or a combination of these things as a trademark. This is your brand.
Two ways to register a trademark in the EU
To register a trademark in the EU, you can choose between registering at the national level in an EU country or registering it as a “European Union trade mark” (EUTM) at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
The EUTM registration grants exclusive rights in all EU countries. However, not all businesses need that, and some may choose to work on the national level.
Trademark registration in the EU
As trademark registration can take place on the national level, you can register at register at your national office(s) of choice. The national offices that are part of the European Union Intellectual Property Network (EUIPN) are listed here: European Trade Mark and Design Network – Who is participating? (tmdn.org)
They coexist with the EU intellectual property.
To register a trademark with EUIPO, you can go to its website, where you can get more information and support.
The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) administers EU trademarks. As EUIPO defines it, “Trade marks are signs used in trade to identify products.
Your trade mark is the symbol your customers use to pick you out. It distinguishes you from your competitors. You can protect and build upon your trade mark if you register it.”
In some jurisdictions, unregistered trademarks can be protected. Yet, registration offers the best IP protection. Trademark registration means that you are the only one who can legally use your mark in the territory.
- Identifies the source of your goods or services.
- Provides legal protection for your brand.
- Helps you guard against counterfeiting and fraud.
The EU uses a first-to-file trademark system. Therefore, in the EU, the first to apply for trademark registration are typically assigned the trademark. That means the date of filing is crucial.
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Before you apply for a trademark, check that there are no conflicting trademarks. In other words, no similar or identical trademarks for similar or identical goods and services.
Once you have ideas for names, you can do a quick search on Google and in the relevant patent office to check if the trademark is available or if there is a likelihood of confusion.
For a registered trademark in the EU, you can search two databases:
- EUIPO offers trademark search via the eSearch plus database. This database reflects EU trade marks and community designs. It also offers image searches and more for figurative marks.
- The TMview database has information from all the national IP offices in EU countries as well as from the EUIPO. It covers trade mark applications and registrations.
A thorough search can help avoid future denials or other problems, and save you time and money. We recommend having a professional perform a comprehensive search before you move on to registration.
Trademark application considerations
The first step in the trademark application and registration process is selecting a mark. When choosing a mark, make sure it can be registered and protected.
Also, consider issues such as whether or not consumers will find your mark easy to remember and what it means in different languages.
Once you have chosen your mark, make sure it is clearly defined so there is no doubt as to what it covers. But remember, a trade mark cannot be merely descriptive. Instead, it should be distinctive.
Before you file the application, explore the resources on www.euipo.europa.eu and the requirements every trade mark must meet.
For example, a trade mark cannot be too similar to another trade mark and should enable customers to distinguish between your goods and services and someone else’s.
When you apply to get an EU Trade Mark, trained examiners check the trade mark application in all of the official EU languages. The legal examination includes issues like the correct classification of your goods or services.
Review the Harmonised Database, which contains more than 70,000 terms to select from to identify your goods or services. All these terms have been accepted by all national intellectual property offices in the EU, so your application can be accelerated.
After the examination, it is time for trade mark publication. This gives other parties the opportunity to oppose the trade mark. The time limit is within 3 months of the publication of the EU trade mark application.
In case of opposition, there are EU proceedings. Otherwise, the trade mark is approved, and the process concludes with a publication of the registered mark.
Madrid System trademarks
For international protection outside of the EU, register your trademark with WIPO, using The International Trademark System.
Often referred to as the Madrid System or the Madrid Protocol, it is an efficient and cost-effective way to gain trademark protection in multiple countries under one application. With a single application, you can apply for protection in over 120 countries worldwide.
To utilize the Madrid System, file for a national trademark registration at your Office of Origin. This application or registration in your home territory is your “basic mark”. It can then be used for filing internationally in Protocol member countries through WIPO.
- Select a trademark
- Perform a trademark search
- For EU trademark protection, decide if you want to apply directly with the national IP office or EUIPO
- For international registration, consider The Madrid System
- Prepare application
- Submit application and documents
- The IP office reviews the application and decides whether to approve or deny it. In EUIPO, your mark is examined in all of the official EU languages.
- Allow for the opposition period
- Registration certificate issued
Digital brand protection after registration
Registration is the first step, and it should be followed by more proactive action:
- Register with online platforms
- Purchase domain names
- Monitor online brand activity
- Enforce your IP rights
Wiser Market online brand protection services help you to actively enforce your IP rights and provide you with a complete IP protection suit.
Wiser online brand protection
Wiser Market offers a robust online brand protection strategy through advanced technology and unique eCommerce know-how.
We offer a digital brand protection strategy that includes 24/7/365 worldwide brand monitoring.
Our innovative system scans online channels, including websites, online marketplaces, social media, mobile apps, search engines, and other platforms to detect IP infringements and enforce your trademark rights.
Our team of experts has extensive knowledge and is dedicated to tailoring a unique solution that best serves your needs and supports your brand. Enforcement makes your trademark stronger and helps secure your brand and revenue online and offline.
We work with brands of all sizes, including small and medium enterprises.
With Wiser Market, your brand will have an efficient and cost-effective IP protection solution, from detection to enforcement of your IP rights, allowing you to focus on growing your business.
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WiserTip: For international protection outside of the EU, consider trademark registration not only in countries where you intend to sell, manufacture, license, or do business but also in countries that are known for counterfeits, like China.
What are the benefits of registering a trademark?
A registered trademark has clear benefits, such as:
- Exclusive rights to use the trademark
- Nationwide priority
- Adds to your brand reputation
- Helps with trademark enforcement
- Allows to obtain registration in other countries based on the national trademark
What is a European Union Trade Mark (EUTM)?
A European Union Trade Mark grants its owner the exclusive right to use his IP in all European Union Member States with just one registration.
What is the difference between an EU design and a trade mark?
A design protects the shape of a product, and a trademark identifies the origin of the goods or services.
Can a foreign company own an EU trademark?
Yes, any individual or company can own an EU Trade Mark.
Can I use an EUTM as the basis for an international application?
Yes, an EU trade mark can be used as the basis for an international application. In this case, the office of origin is EUIPO.
What symbol can be used to show your registered trademark in the EU?
The ® symbol is used to show your trademark is registered. You can also write your trademark number if you choose. Remember, you can use these symbols, but it is not mandatory.
How long is an EU Trade Mark valid?
A registered EU trade mark is valid for 10 years and can be renewed indefinitely.
What is the Madrid System?
The Madrid System, administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), allows for the international registration of trademarks. The Madrid System or Madrid Protocol enables right holders to protect their trademarks in multiple countries.
The EU is part of the Madrid System. You can file an international application based on an EU trade mark or gain protection in the EU through an international application.
What is online brand protection?
Digital brand protection services counter online threats and protect your intellectual property assets. Anytime, anywhere. Whether you wish to fight counterfeiting, protect your domain name, prevent trademark, copyright and brand infringements, or combat gray market selling and knockoffs, use Wiser Market’s online brand protection services. Effective online brand protection defends your brand’s revenue, profitability, reputation, customer service and brand trust.
Contact Wiser Market online brand protection services.
For more information, visit https://wisermarket.com/
Disclaimer: This information is intended to help the reader gain a basic understanding of the current trademark situation in the EU. It is NOT designed to provide legal, business, or other relevant professional advice.