European trademark

A trademark of the European Community (Community Trademark) gives its owner unitary legal protection on the territory of all member states of the European Union.

The following states are currently member states of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary,  Germany, Greece, Denmark, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland, France, Croatia, Czech Republic, Sweden, Estonia.

The registration of a Community trademark is made through one single application, in one of the languages of the European Community, against a single fee.

A Community trademark can consist of any signs which can be graphically represented, in particular words, including personal names, designs, numerals, letters, combinations of words, letters and numerals, shapes of the goods and their packaging, colors or combinations of colors, three-dimensional designs or sounds.

The signs that make up a trademark must be capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one undertaking from those of another undertaking.

In order to be registered, a Community trademark must also possess a distinctive character and cannot consist exclusively of signs or indications which may serve to designate the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin or the time of production of the goods or of rendering of the services,  or which have become generally accepted terms. Moreover, a sign will not be registered as a trademark if it consists of the shape of the goods or their packaging, which results exclusively from the nature of the goods themselves, which is necessary to obtain a technical result, or which gives substantial value to the goods, nor such as are against public order, principles of morality, or such as would deceive the public, etc. There are also limitations in regard to registering as trademarks of the signs that relate to the shape of the goods, appellations of origin identifying wines or spirits, official emblems.

Community trademark applications are filed at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) (the former Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market) based in Alicante, Spain, or at the patent office of a member state or, in Benelux countries, at the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property.    

The application must contain the request, the full details concerning the applicant, the list of the goods and/or services to be covered by the trademark, the representation of the trademark wanted to be registered, the document attesting payment of the prescribed fee. The application to register a Community trademark  undergoes the formal examination the examination as to whether absolute grounds exist for refusing registration of the trademark. The applicant is provided with the search report (in regard to some countries the search is not carried out). If the result of the examination is favourable, the particulars concerning the application are published.  There is then a 3 month period from the date of publication in which third parties can object (file a notice of opposition) the registration of the trademark. The trademark will be registered if no objections have been made or if the outcome of the oppositions filed is favorable to the applicant. The registration of the Community trademark would be valid in all member states of the European Union.  

A Community trademark is valid for 10 years from the date of filing, and it can be renewed indefinitely, for 10 years at a time.