Planned reforms to EU trade mark laws have been backed by the EU’s Council of Ministers despite opposition from the UK government.
The Council of Ministers have stated that the reforms are: “aimed at making trade mark registration systems throughout the European Union more accessible and efficient for businesses in terms of lower costs and complexity, increased speed, greater predictability and legal certainty”.
A new directive designed to “approximate” the different national trade mark laws, and a new regulation that updates existing Community trademarks rules make up the reform package backed by the Council.
MEPs are expected to give their approval to the reforms before the end of the year after which the new rules will be published in the Official Journal of the EU and come into force, it said.
The UK government has stated that it was opposed to the plans due to the fact that the new regime would see “future surpluses accumulated from trade mark and design fees” added to “the general EU budget”.
“Research has suggested that IP rich industries contribute 39% of the EU’s GDP, with trade marks a significant part of this,” the UK government said. “We must nurture and protect this contribution to retain our competitiveness: therefore, we should not divert money which came from IP to other uses. It should stay in the system, for example supporting innovation or enforcement.”
A important feature of the reforms is the ‘one class per fee’ system. A separate application and renewal charge will apply for each class of good that the rights holder wishes to obtain Community trade mark protection for.
Many businesses are welcoming the reforms as they will reduce the cost of registering and renewing Community trade marks, however the downside is that there may be detriment to national trade mark registries and local businesses that wish to protect their trade mark on a national level.
We will have to wait and see if the reforms take place in the near future.