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The European Community Trade Mark

GENERAL

The Community Trade Mark (CTM) is administered by the Community Trade Mark Office (OHIM) located in Alicante, Spain. Even if you do not trade in the EU there are important consequences of the CTM which you should be aware of.

COUNTRIES

A CTM covers all the member states of the European Union, namely: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.  From 1 May 2004 new and existing CTMs are extended to Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia. From 1 January 2007 new and existing CTMs are additionally extended to Bulgaria and Romania.

National registrations continue to be possible in the individual countries.

SALIENT POINTS ABOUT THE CTM

OHIM logoAnyone can apply for a CTM, even if they are based outside the EU. The level of examination carried out by OHIM is minimal and the onus is very much on existing trade mark owners to be vigilant in opposing any conflicting marks. A CTM must be available in all member states. A prior national registration in any one of the states can block a CTM. Anyone who applies for a CTM will receive a report listing any prior registrations, but the search does not cover France, Germany or Italy. After the search report is issued the CTM is advertised and owners of prior national registrations can lodge opposition within 3 months. Priority and "seniority" can be claimed from earlier national registrations, but the CTM registration must be the same as the national registration (same mark, goods, services etc.). Registration is for an initial period of 10 years, renewable indefinitely for like periods. The enforcement of CTM rights must be done through the national courts of member states.

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS

EU use

If your trading profile is sufficient to justify the cost of a CTM we recommend the following:

1. Register in the UK first to confirm inherent registrability.
2. Conduct an availability search. At least the national registers of France, Germany and Italy should be checked, and preferably all countries in the EU.
3. If clear, file a CTM application.

Local use

If you only trade in the UK we strongly recommend that you register nationally. This will enable you to block anyone from obtaining a CTM (though they could still obtain national registrations in other EU countries).

FIND OUT MORE:

Visit the web site of the Community Trade Marks Office (OHIM)

Craske & Co., 1998, 2005, 2007


Last updated: 04 November 2012