On 23 March 2016, European Union Trade Mark Regulation (EU) 2015/2424 came into force. The new Regulation amends Community Trade Mark Regulation 207/2009/EC, and makes a number of procedural and substantive changes to EU trade mark law. Most of the new Regulation’s provisions are effective immediately, with the remainder scheduled to come into force in October 2017.
Key changes include the following:
- The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) will now be known as the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). As part of this change, the EUIPO has launched a new website.
- The “Community Trade Mark” will now be known as a “European Union Trade Mark” (EUTM).
- The definition of trade mark has been expanded by removing the requirement for the mark to be “capable of being represented graphically”. Trade marks may now qualify for registration where they are represented in any form using generally available technology (for example by way of an electronic soundfile).
- The provisions relating to protected geographical indications (PGI) and protected designations of origin (PDOs) have been simplified.
- A new right to prohibit preparatory acts has been introduced.
- Revisions have been made to the defences to infringement and the absolute grounds for refusal.
- New provisions relating to “transit goods” have been introduced, entitling trade mark owners to block the entry of infringing goods in all customs situations (e.g., transit, transhipment, warehousing, temporary storage etc.).
- The fee structure for EUTM applications has been amended.
In advance of these changes, OHIM (now EUIPO) published a new version of its guidelines on Trade Mark Practice and Designs, which are designed to be compatible with the changes introduced by the new Regulation. The guidelines came into force on the same day as the new Regulation.