The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) is a European Union agency in charge of registering union trademarks and community designs. This blog discusses how your trademark or design can be protected in the European Union, what deadlines and formalities must be met, and what is the case for protection of your trademark or design in the United Kingdom (UK).
Council Regulation (EC) No. 6/2002 of December 12, 2001 on Community Designs (hereinafter, the Designs Regulation) defines the term design as: "the appearance of a product or part thereof resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colors, shape, texture and/or materials of the product itself and/or its ornamentation."
Designs thus specify what products look like. This could include product packaging, composite products, graphic designs or web design. A specific design can be protected in the European Union by registration with the EUIPO. Registered Community Designs (IGMs) are protected against similar designs, even if the infringing design was developed in good faith. Thus, registration ensures that you obtain an exclusive right to the design. This right applies in all member states of the European Union. An IGM is initially valid for five years. The registration can be renewed each time for five years up to a maximum of 25 years.
The application for an IGM can be submitted online, where it is also possible to register several designs at the same time. Submission of the application should be made to the EUIPO. The EUIPO also maintains a public register of IGMs.
Trademarks are symbols by which products can be recognized. Trademarks can be registered at four levels. First, they can be registered at the national intellectual property office (this also applies to designs, by the way).
If you seek protection for your trademark in the Benelux, you can file an application with the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BBIE). This is the second level.
Third, an application for a Union trademark can be filed with EUIPO. This registration can be renewed indefinitely every 10 years.
Finally, it is possible to take your trademark application to an international level outside the European Union. This is possible with any country that has signed the Madrid Protocol and is handled by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Countries that have ratified this protocol include (in addition to the European Union) the United States, China, Japan and Russia.
The United Kingdom
After the transition period regarding the UK's departure from the European Union ended on January 1, 2021, all IGMs lost their force in the UK. They were converted into UK property rights, subject to their own rules and requirements. If you wish to register a new design in the UK or extend the validity period of an existing design in the UK, you must make a separate application to the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
It is therefore advisable to register your trademark or design with the EUIPO or WIPO. You will then have an exclusive right to your trademark or design and it can prevent any future conflicts.
Want to know more?
Wolfs Advocaten will gladly assist you with the application or renewal of your trademark or design at the EUIPO, the IPO and the WIPO. Do you have any questions on this matter or on IP law in general? Feel free to contact one of our lawyers.