The registration system for the European Union exists since 1996. Through a single procedure at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), it is possible to obtain a trademark registration covering the whole of the European Union (currently, 28 Member States), the so-called ‘EUTM’.
In addition, there is also a European trademark law that regulates the EU Trademark. Important is that:
- the EUTM necessarily covers the whole of the European Union. One cannot therefore exclude one or more Member States, e.g. as a result of a dispute.
- the EUTM coexists with the national registration systems in the various Member States and the Benelux system. The Community Trademark does not have priority and in order to determine who has the oldest rights, it is in principle necessary to determine who was the first to file the trademark.
- earlier national registrations of a third party may thus block a EUTM. However, a safety net is provided in the sense that the proprietor of a EUTM can convert their applicationinto national applications, while retaining the original filing date, in all Member States where the other party does not claim a valid earlier right.
- in order to comply with the obligation of use, it may be sufficient to use the trademark only in one or a few EU Member States. Your trademark will therefore also be protected in those Member States where you are not even using the trademark.
- if one wants to oppose to an infringement in several Member States, this can be done through a single Community court which can take cross-border measures and issue an EU-wide injunction.
- the EUTM may also be applied for through an international registration under the Madrid system and that an international registration may also be based on a EUTM.
In general, a EUTM offers many advantages and often puts you in a strong legal and negotiating position in case of conflicts.