Fees for the application and registration of an EU wide trade mark are due to drop to around €1000 by mid 2009.

The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) is the non-profit agency responsible for registering trade marks that are valid in all 27 countries of the EU, which are known as Community Trade Marks (CTMs).

A package of fee changes for CTMs, delivering a 40% cut in the cost of trade mark protection, was recently approved by the Fees Committee chaired by the European Commission in Brussels. The draft Regulation now needs to be prepared for adoption by the European Commission, following which it will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The OHIM has stated that the fee reductions will take effect the day after publication of the Regulation. The OHIM expects this to happen within a matter of weeks, but an official time frame as regards the necessary legislative process has not been made public by the European Commission.

The combined cost of application and registration fees for a basic CTM currently stands at €1750. The main elements of the new agreed package are as follows: the registration fee will be set at zero and there will be a small offsetting increase in the application fee. The effect of this will be to simplify the process, with a single fee of €1050 for a CTM applied for by fax or paper, and €900 for an electronically filed CTM. The new fee for an application filed via the Madrid Protocol will be €870. The reduction in fees is likely to make the Community Trade Mark even more attractive in the European and international marketplace. Owners of trade marks, whether they are business owners or others, need to be vigilant and protect their trade marks and brands. The impending reduction in CTM fees is designed to provide better value for users and help SMEs in particular.