A European Community Trade Mark (CTM) provides a simple and cost-effective means for trade mark owners to protect their trade marks in all EU member countries with a single registration.
When enforcing rights in a CTM, or defending a CTM from an action for removal for non-use, a trade mark owner is required to demonstrate “genuine use”.
However, recent case law suggests that if there is use of a CTM (including substantial use) in only one EU country, this may not be sufficient to fulfil the “genuine use” requirement. This has implications for CTM owners whose operations are primarily focussed in one region or country within the EU, as such use is unlikely to be sufficient to support a challenge to a third party’s mark, or defend a non-use removal application (which may be filed once a CTM has been registered for a period of five years).
Therefore, trade mark owners who have CTM registrations which are older than five years, but only use their mark in one EU country, should consider reinforcing their protection by, among other things, filing a fresh CTM application.