In March 2011 the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property and Competition Law released its much anticipated study on the overall functioning of the European trade mark system. The study contained many recommendations for changes to the current system and has subsequently been considered by the European Commission. Although the European Commission is yet to publish its proposals, rumours are circulating that the Commission will soon propose the following key changes:

  • Community trade marks (CTMs) to be renamed European trade marks (ETMs);
  • CTM application costs in once class to be reduced, however applicants will no longer be able to get protection in up to three classes for a standard price;
  • OHIM to become the European Union Trade Marks and Designs Agency (presumably EU TMDA or TMDA);
  • Graphical representation requirement removed for CTMs;
  • National offices to abandon examination on relative grounds (for any that still have this).

With no official document published by the European Commission, uncertainty remains as to what will be formally proposed for consultation.

It should be noted that any proposed changes will have to be approved by European Union member states before they can come into effect. Once officially published proposals have been fully detailed by the Commission itself we will be in a position to advise further. We await that time with interest.