The number of Community Trade Mark applications received and processed by the OHIM (‘the Office’) is increasing year-on-year. In 2013, the Office received more than 114 thousands trade mark applications, and this was a 6% increase on the previous year. In the 2013 Annual Report the Office stated that one of the challenges that it faced was to continue improving the quality of the services offered to its users.

In order to improve quality and workflow efficiency the Office has announced two new changes to its services that will come into effect on 24 November 2014.

Fast Track initiative

From the 24 November 2014, applicants for Community Trade Marks will have the option of their applications being published quicker at no extra cost by using the ‘Fast Track’ service. This means that applications will be published in half the time or less compared to standard applications which are generally published 8 to 11 weeks after payment of the official fees.

To be able to use the fast track service users will have to:

  • Select their list of goods and services from the approved database of terms created by the Office
  • Pay the official fees when the application is submitted or immediately thereafter by credit card, bank transfer or by using their OHIM Current Account and most importantly ticking the ‘Debit now’ option.

Applications can drop out of the Fast Track system if, for example, the mark receives absolute ground objections, payment is late, classification deficiencies are found.

This new service can be particularly useful to applicants who are not sure if  their marks are registrable or to those who have conducted a search and want their marks to be published quickly so they can ascertain if third parties will oppose the registration before embarking on marketing programmes.

No pay, no play

In another bid to increase quality and efficiency, the Office has announced that from the 24 November 2014 it will no longer examine applications or process correspondence relating to such applications until payment is received.  The Office has stated that historically 4% of all applications examined are left unpaid. By not examining these applications, the Office believes that it will increase workflow efficiency.

This change will remove the option for those who, in the past, chose to file their applications just to secure a filing date or to check if the application was registrable before paying for the application.

Another intended consequence of these changes is the Office encouraging Applicants to select their list of goods and services from a database of terms already approved by the Office thereby reducing the number of classification deficiencies.  We believe that this strategy reinforces the need for Applicants to secure adequate protection for their brand.