Don’t wait until it’s too late to secure the rights to your brand in the European Union. Whether you’re a local enterprise operating across EU countries or an international firm planning to enter several markets in this territory, it's a good idea to get a trademark for your assets. To help you get started, here is a quick EU trademark registration guide.
What Are the Benefits of an EU Trademark?
The European Union boasts a consumer base of over 440 million, with a GDP per capita of €25,000. The EU has a positive trading relationship with developing countries, and is the largest trader of manufactured products and services in the world. This means that savvy business owners can find opportunity in Europe's wealth of resources.
A European Union trademark (EUTM) allows you to use and enforce your mark—including logos, brand names, and slogans—in any of the territory’s member states. These are a total of 27: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.
Because just one registration protects your assets on a multinational level, this trademark route is ideal for fast-growing businesses looking to break into new markets. It’s also more cost-effective than applying for national trademarks in each of your target countries.
The EU Trademark Registration Process
1. Trademark Search
Before you begin the application process, you should run an EU trademark search to identify any potential conflicts with existing trademarks. If your desired mark is very similar to any existing trademarks, you’ll need to apply some changes to make yours more distinctive. The more unique your mark is, the more likely it will be approved for registration.
If you fail to do this, you may run into costly and time-consuming legal disputes with other trademark owners later on in the application process.
2. Trademark Application
Once you are satisfied with your unique trademark idea, you can file a trademark application with the EUIPO. You may choose to apply independently through the EUIPO website or using a paper form. Alternatively, you can file your application with the help of a professional representative, like an online trademark service or trademark attorney.
If you’re applying online, digip may be a good fit for you. Our trademark management platform is user-friendly, reliable, and affordable for businesses of all sizes. We make it easy for you to understand the trademark process, and provide legal guidance every step of the way.
The EUIPO will only examine trademark applications after they have been paid for. You will have one month from application to settle your basic fee, which starts from €850 for one class.
3. Review by the EUIPO
Your application will be reviewed by a EUIPO examiner, a process which typically takes about a month.
In case any issues arise around your mark’s distinctiveness, class, or wording, you will be notified by the EUIPO. You’ll be given a couple of months to resolve all specified issues and respond to this notice. Once all items have settled and review is completed, your trademark may be approved for publishing.
Your filed trademark will be published in the EU Trademark Bulletin. Your mark may then be reviewed and disputed by other trademark owners for a period of three months after the publication date.
If someone feels that your pending trademark may infringe on their existing trademark, they may file an opposition against it. Trademark oppositions can stall your application by two years or longer, and may even result in complete rejection.
If you apply for your trademark through a legal service or attorney, they may be able to help you expedite the process of a dispute. When you sign on with a service provider, it would be wise to choose a service package that includes legal counsel in case any opposition is filed.
5. Issuance of Trademark
If there are no oppositions filed by end of the publication period, the EUIPO will endorse your trademark for approval. A registration certificate will be issued to you about three months after your trademark is endorsed and approved. You will then be able to use the ® symbol beside your trademark wherever it appears.
How Much Does an EU Trademark Cost?
The basic trademark filing fees vary based on online and paper registration requirements. Online registration is more affordable, with fees starting at €850 for one class.
You can add a second class of goods and services to your application for €50. If you want to add a third class or more, you will have to pay a fee of €150 for each of these.
For reference, here is a breakdown of basic registration fees from the EUIPO:
A self-filed application is relatively low-cost, but requires a significant amount of time and effort to process. If you aren’t a legal expert, your application may also be prone to mistakes and resulting delays.
Many entrepreneurs choose to partner with a legal service or attorney to file their trademark. A properly filed application and trademark guidance can save you money and time in the long run. Additional costs may vary based on your chosen service provider.
A European Union trademark is valid for 10 years. Your marks can be renewed indefinitely, subject to relevant fees.
Protecting your trademark rights
A trademarked asset is not automatically protected against infringement. A successful registration only allows you to enforce your trademark in its area of scope.
It’s up to you to watch the market, spot potential infringement against your trademark, and take action to stop it.
If you fail to monitor your trademark, others will be able to secure marks that are very similar to yours. Your trademark will lose its distinctiveness, and will be harder to enforce later on.
To ensure that you catch all potential case of infringement, you can avail of trademark watch services from intellectual property experts like Digip. Our trademark management platform offers global trademark watch coverage, weekly reports, legal recommendations, and more.
As you monitor your trademark, you may come across trademark applications that are very similar to yours. ln line with your earlier right, you will be able to oppose or cancel the infringing trademark registration.
Registering a trademark is a long but worthwhile process which adds value to your brand over time. If you have ambitions to expand your business in the European Union, you should think about securing an EU trademark for your brand as soon as possible.