The EU’s largest decentralised agency, the OHIM, will change its name to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) next Wednesday 23 March 2016 and over 1.3 million existing registered Community trade marks (CTM) will then be called European Union trade marks (EUTMs).

This legislative reform is aimed at building a stronger trade mark framework in the EU and addressing concerns that the existing legislation had become outdated. In addition, it will strengthen the collaboration between the EUIPO and national intellectual property offices.

As previously reported (here and here) some of the notable changes include:

  • Changes to the costs of trade mark applications (the official fee schedule is here);
  • Changes in the scope of the application process;
  • The manner in which seizures of counterfeit goods that are in transit through the EU can occur; and
  • The elimination of the requirement to graphically represent a trade mark in an application.

Looking further down the line the new Trade Marks Directive (Directive (EU) 2015/2436) will further harmonize the national trade mark systems of Member States (as distinct from the system noted above that governs the operation of EUTMs). The Directive came into force on 13 January 2016 but requires implementation by the Member States (with two implementation deadlines in operation). The vast majority of the changes need to be implemented by 14 January 2019 at the latest.