There are some major changes planned for trade mark law in the European Union in 2016 – the biggest since the 1989 Trade Marks Directive and the 1994 Community Trade Mark Regulation. The ultimate aim of these changes is to lower costs, boost speed and give more legal predictability and certainty to businesses filing trademark applications.

January 2016 will see a new EU Trade Marks Directive come into force, while a new CTM Regulation will follow by April 2016. These changes include new, more self-explanatory references; for example, all references to Community in the trademark law will be changed to Union, the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) will be renamed the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), and the Community Trade Mark (CTM) will now be known as the European Union Trade Mark (EUTM).

Some of the more practical changes

The changes include broadening of the definition of a trade mark. For example, there is no longer a necessity for a trade mark to be “capable of being represented graphically”; the representation can use any generally available technology and consist of colours and sounds, provided that the authorities and the public can still determine the precise subject matter being protected.

There is also a proposed new, if only subtly modified, fee structure for EUTM applications. Whereas the basic fee for a CTM can cover up to three classes of goods or services, there are now slightly different fees for different numbers of classes. Furthermore, the application fee will have to be paid upon application; the current one month grace period will be going.

There are potential implications for your own business

What specific implications will these changes have for businesses in the UK? The straight answer is: not quite as much as you might expect. That’s because much UK trade mark legislation is already close to what the European Union is now enacting more widely across member states, many of which will have to make broader changes to their trademark law.

Nonetheless, your business should still seek expert advice now, rather than wait until 2016, in order to assess how it can and should take advantage of the upcoming changes in the law. Trade Mark Consultants have over five decades of professional experience and commercial knowledge, much of it relates to filing and enforcing trademark registrations. Our Middlesex location also better ensures the accessibility of our services.