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Cost of EU-wide trade marks set to plummet

The cost of registering trade marks across Europe will tumble by 40% as the non-profit body behind the marks attempts to find ways to shed its €300 million surplus.23 Sep 2008

Advert: free OUT-LAW Breakfast Seminars - 1. Making your contract work: pitfalls and best practices; 2. Transferring data: the information security issuesThe cost of community trade marks (CTMs) will fall from €1,650 to €1,000, according to the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM), the body reponsible for the marks. The plan is the result of a meeting of the body's administrative board and budget committee.

"As regards to the proposed fee reduction a new very straight forward proposal emerged during discussions, which would not only substantially reduce the fees, but simplify the fee structure and result in a significant reduction of administrative burden in relation to the handling of fees," said an OHIM statement. "This would consist of concentrating the impact of the fee reduction on the current registration fee, and bringing the combined value of the application and registration fees down to around €1,000."

Currently, applicants for CTMs pay €900 application fee and a €750 registration fee, with an extra €100 charge for filings not conducted electronically.

Even less of that money will actually go to OHIM, though, because the body has proposed sending half of the money to national trade mark registration bodies. It said that the criteria which would govern how much went to which nations were not yet decided, but that they would be framed to ensure that every member state receives a minimum payment.

"The transfer of 50% of renewal fees should be done in a way that would ensure that the funds would be available to the Member States’ National Offices and would be used for the purposes closely related to the protection, promotion and/or enforcement/combat counterfeiting of trade marks," said the statement.

OHIM will also create a cooperation fund for these purposes until the 50% allocation is in place. That fund will receive €50m.

A significant proportion of the surplus will be put into OHIM's reserve fund. It said that "the vast majority" of countries had backed its proposal to put €190m into that fund.

Trade mark law expert Lee Curtis of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said that the moves were to be welcomed.

"The Community Trade Marks Office has been a tremendous success since it was created in 1996 and the large financial surpluses that the office has accumulated are a testament to the popularity of the system amongst brand owners," he said. "It is great that some of these surpluses are now being returned to brand owners in the form of the lowering of the costs of registering Community Trade Marks, making it all the more easier from businesses to protect their hard-won goodwill."

Curtis said that the CTM system worked very well in protecting economically vital assets.

"'Trade marks often form one of the most valuable assets of a business; afterall what is more important to a business than its good name?" he said. "One of the most effective ways to protect such an asset is to register it as a trade mark and the Community Trade Marks system is one of the most effective registration systems in the world,  providing protection for a trade mark across all twenty seven member states of the EU."