Update in progress
A trademark refers to the identity of a product or service. It may take various forms: any graphic representation which serves to distinguish the products or services of a business from those of its competitors may constitute a trademark. The training may be:
Filing a trademark for a patented product or a registered drawing may considerably increase the commercial value in terms of value of a business or visual identity, on expiry of the patent, registered drawing or industrial brand.
Anybody may register a trademark: an individual, a self-employed worker, a business or any other legal entity.
Registering a trademark provides statutory rights which, under certain conditions, forbid others from using the trademark without prior authorisation of the owner, thereby preventing counterfeiting.
Any sign that can be represented graphically may be registered as a trademark. A trademark may consist of one single or a combination of character(s), letter(s), word(s) (slogans included) or number(s).
The trademark may consist of:
In general, a trademark is registered for a certain class of products or services, and for a period of 10 years renewable indefinitely.
Before registering a trademark, it is recommended to check whether it is available. This research can be carried out online:
In Benelux countries, national registration no longer exists; the protection covers the 3 countries.
The applicant may submit his application:
The standard price for registering a trademark in Benelux valid for 3 categories is EUR 240.
The payment must be made in the month following the filing date; failing this, the filing date will be set as the date of the receipt of payment. This date is important as it sets the order of precedence.
The trademark registration procedure lasts about 4 months. The registration is valid for 10 years and may be extended indefinitely for 10-year periods.
If the commercial activities cover Europe, the interested party can submit an application:
EU trademarks are legally applicable and benefit from full protection throughout the European Union.
The standard price for a EU trademark is between EUR 900 and EUR 1.050, for 3 categories.
A business which already holds a trademark (or has at least filed an application at a national level) may obtain international protection for this trademark in the countries party to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks.
Concerning this matter, a business files a single international trademark application at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) via the national Intellectual Property Office (OPI). The business only pays one set of taxes in one currency.
An international registration has the same effect in the designated countries as a national procedure carried out in each of the individual states.
If the holder of a trademark feels that a recently filed trademark infringes his older trademark, he can initiate an opposition procedure. The opposition must be based on a previous trademark right, which may be a Benelux, EU or international registered trademark with a Benelux extension.
This procedure must be initiated within two months of the publication of the disputed filing.
The applicant may file an opposition on the website of the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property.