Following the adoption of the EU trade mark reform package by European Parliament on 15 December 2015, the final text of the draft legislation has now been published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The draft legislation consists of the EU Trade Mark Directive, which was published on 23 December 2015 and entered into force on 13 January 2016 and, the EU Trade Mark Regulation, which was published on 24 December 2015 and enters into force on 23 March 2016.

The purpose of the reform package is to upgrade, streamline and modernise the current trade mark legislation making EU trade mark protection more accessible and efficient for businesses with reduced costs, increased speed and reliability. 

Some of the important changes are summarised below:

  • The use of general terms in a specification will be interpreted as including only those and services covered by the literal meaning of the term and nothing more.  Existing Community Trade Mark owners who have trade mark registrations filed on or before 21 June 2012 and which included the class heading will be given a transitional period of six months commencing on 23 March 2016 (ie by the deadline of 23 September 2016) to file a declaration stating that their intention at the time of filing of the application had been to seek to protect all the goods and/or services in a given class by utilising the class heading.
  • The current “three classes for the price of one” official fee structure is being replaced by a system of “one class per fee”. Both official filing and renewal fees will be amended accordingly.
  • The requirement that a trade mark has to be capable of being represented graphically has been abolished, which should allow for greater flexibility when filing marks.
  • The term “Community Trade Mark” will be replaced with “European Union Trade Mark” and the name of the EU’s trade mark (and design right) granting authority, the Office for the Harmonisation of the Internal Market (OHIM) is to be renamed the “European Union Intellectual Property Office”.

A full review of the changes entering into force, can be found in our previous article.