EU offers cheaper trademark protection

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union

It will be cheaper for firms to apply for trademark protection
across the European Union from the start of November, yet the
privilege will remain pricey compared to other regions.

The European Commission announced it would cut the basic application fee for a Community trademark (EU-wide) from €975 to €900 for paper forms and €750 for on-line forms.

Actual registration of a Community mark (CTM) will drop from €1,100 to €850, while those renewing their registrations will make the biggest saving; paying €1,500 instead of €2,500, with an extra €150 off if renewal is done on-line.

The move is the result of a large-scale efficiency drive implemented at the agency responsible for granting EU-wide trademarks, the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM).

The OHIM, which survives entirely on money from firms that use its services, will usher in the fee reductions before 1 November, allowing companies who applied for CTMs in 1996 to benefit.

Trademarks have become essential for food and drink firms keen to build brand recognition. The issue can also lead to fierce disputes like the feud between US brewer Anheuser Busch and Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar over the Budweiser name.

Now, the Commission hopes its price cuts will help it to compete better against other regions for companies' trademark applications.

Charlie McCreevy, internal market and services commissioner, said: "It's great news for businesses, who will now be able to get EU-wide trademark protection at very attractive rates, especially if they do it online. It will also stimulate economic activity in this sector."

But, a look at others shows the EU can still be an expensive place to get a trademark. Australia charges the equivalent of about €94, or €75 on-line, to apply to register one trademark, while registration fees are €187. The US now charges around €314 for a paper application and €272 if done on the internet.

Both countries do separate products into 'classes' so that extra application and registration fees must be paid for the same trademark in each new class. Prices could, therefore, still rival the EU regarding big registrations.

Applications for EU-wide trademarks were the lowest (42,352) since 1999 for the year ended 30 September 2005, according to OHIM figures.

A European Commission spokesperson denied this had any effect on the rapid introduction of the price cuts. She said the OHIM was looking to make further efficiency savings to reduce prices again, but "we'll wait and see with this one for the moment"​.

The EU can perhaps offset some of the difference by its position as one of the biggest consumer markets in the world, offering a lucrative starting point for businesses.

Even so, the Commission spokesperson said the current price cuts may do more to help larger firms, rather than smaller ones who may choose to register in individual states first.

"Most of the trademark applications that are filed are from larger companies. You have to be a certain size for it to be interesting."

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