The Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (“BOIP”) recently introduced several changes that will affect users. These changes include recognising English as a working language, simplifying the procedure for the renewal of trademark registrations, creating a new method for calculating the opposition period, and changing the period for the suspension of oppositions.

English as a working language
One of the consequences of the introduction of English as a working language is that Benelux trademark and design registrations can be worded in English from now on.

However, the basic principle is that no one will be obliged to use English, especially in inter partes proceedings. For example, if the disputed application is in English in opposition proceedings, the other party does not have to consent to the use of English. The proceedings can then be conducted in Dutch or French.

Renewal of trademark registrations
As from 1 October 2013, a written request for renewal is no longer required. The payment of fees due is sufficient for a valid renewal. There is a special tool on the BOIP’s website that facilitates this.

Opposition period
From now on the opposition term should be calculated from the date of publication, instead of from the first day of the month following publication. So if a trademark is published on 11 October 2013, the opposition period expires on 11 December 2013, instead of 1 January 2014.

Period for suspension of oppositions extended to four months
The period for the suspension of oppositions upon joint request of the parties is extended to four months. This used to be two months.