An important part of trade mark law is the European trade mark (EUTM). A European trade mark provides to the owner the exclusive right to use the specific mark in the 28 member states of the European union. Any third parties, within the EU territory, which provide the same goods or services cannot use the same mark because it exclusively belongs to the proprietor who firstly registered it. Ownership of an EUTM can be gained by any natural or legal person, including authorities established under public law.
The EUTM system does not affect the national systems of each Member State. Businesses and enterprises can register for both a national and European Union trade mark if they wish to do so. The trademarks which are already registered within the Member States are still valid and if a person files an application for an EUTM then an owner of an earlier national trademark can still file an opposition. If registration of a trademark has been refused by the EUIPO it is unlikely that national registration would be allowed. The EUTM, as already mentioned offers protection and validity over all the 28 Member States thus it has a unitary character consequently it is not possible for any EUTM to offer protection over some of the Member States instead of all of them.
It is important to note that Nice Classification is of mandatory use for an EUTM registration. The International Qualification of Goods and services for the purpose of trade mark registration (Nice Agreement/ Nice Classification) aims to specify the scope of trade mark protection.
European Union trademarks are of major importance for intellectual property it is therefore vital to know their basic characteristics as a business owner.
By Dimitra Angelopoulou