When looking to distinguish your business or brand from others in your field, one of the most effective ways to do so is by use of a trade mark. In order to protect your trade mark, there are registration processes on both an UK and EU basis. Up until now, if you only wished to trade in one or two countries, there has been little incentive to apply for an EU (or Community Trade Mark ("CTM") as they are known) trade mark, due primarily to cost. However, the Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the EU (OHIM) have announced that they are to cut the cost of applying to register a trade mark and such attractive prices may make businesses think twice about where to spend their money.
In order to register a trade mark in the UK, an application has to be submitted to the Intellectual Property Office together with the fee which is £200 to register your trade mark in one class of goods or services and £50 for each additional class. If you wish your registration fast-tracked it would cost you a further £300. This process, if there are no objections raised, will provide you with a trade mark enforceable within the UK.
The whole process can be a costly business particularly where there is an objection raised and the outcome is limited to the UK.
In order to widen the scope of a registered trademark, there is the option to register your trademark throughout the EU, by making an application to OHIM. Such a registered trade mark would be enforceable in all 27 EU countries and therefore ensures that your trade mark is protected on a Europe-wide basis. Previously, the fees levied to register a European trade mark made it unappealing for many people, who would perhaps only wish to operate in one or two additional countries and they may have taken the risk. However, the European Commission has recently approved a reduction of fee charges to provide better value for SME's and the cost of EU registration will be cut by 40%, making the cost of a paper application €1,050 and an e-application just €900. Such measures make the submission of a CTM a much more attractive option along with the benefit of European-wide recognition and protection of your trade mark.
This move by OHIM, to cut registration fees, offers much greater choice for businesses and individuals and should be considered when an application to register a trade mark is being considered.