Why and how to register a trademark in the European Union

The institution in charge of intellectual property including trademark registration in the European Union is the European Union Intellectual Property Office, usually known as the EUIPO. It is located in Alicante, Spain.

A registered European Union Trademark (EUTM) grants recognition and protection in all 28 member States of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. It also covers the following territories: in Finland, Aland Islands; in France, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique and Reunion; in Portugal, Azores and Madeira; in Spain, Canary Islands and Ceuta and Melilla.

The European Union has a fairly short registration process and the average time between the application and registration for straightforward cases is 6 months.

What should I know before applying for a trademark in the European Union?

Trademark applications in the European Union can be filed either locally before the EUIPO or before the World Intellectual Property Organization, by means of the Madrid system. You can learn more about this system and check if you comply with the requirements by visiting our Madrid protocol page.

In the European Union, the rights to a trademark are granted to the first person or company to file it, except in some exceptional cases such as well-known trademarks.

If filing a logo trademark, its colors cannot be claimed and the logo will be protected for all combinations of colors. If you register a trademark that contains both text and figurative elements, the protection granted will only cover the combination of both elements, as they appear in the logo filed. If you wish to protect the trademark text or the design separately, then separate applications for the wordmark and for the design must be filed.

Why should I order a trademark search in the European Union?

A trademark search is a report on the chances a trademark has of successfully registering. While the search is optional, it is a highly-recommended stage in the process, potentially preventing obstacles and disappointments down the road.

The search is conducted in the EUIPO trademark database as well as the databases of the member countries' local offices, and its purpose is to determine whether there are previously filed or registered trademarks whose owners would be likely to file an opposition against your trademark application. 

The report also includes an analysis of the trademark according to EUIPO's absolute criteria for approving trademark applications.

The European Union's trademark database permits the searching of figurative marks (logos) in addition to wordmarks.

For more information, you can download an example of a search report.

What are the requirements for trademark registration in the European Union?

In the European Union, no documentation is required to file a trademark application. Only the trademark information must be provided: the trademark name and logo (if any), the Nice classes and corresponding products and/or services, and the name and address of the individual or company who will be the trademark owner.

What is the trademark registration process in the European Union?

Here is the process for how to register a trademark in the European Union:

Trademark

Trademark examiners do not issue objections based on identical or similar trademarks when examining EUIPO trademark applications. However, owners of previous trademarks filed either via the EUIPO or via the EU member countries' local offices can file opposition actions against a EUIPO application if they feel that the applied for trademark conflicts with theirs.

Such trademark oppositions can be filed during the three-month publication period that takes place after the examination by the EUIPO.

Once the opposition period has closed, the application will proceed to registration and the EUIPO office will issue a digital trademark certificate.

What happens once my trademark is registered in the European Union?

Once the registration has been granted, EU trademarks have a validity of 10 years from the application date. 

They can be renewed for a further ten years during the 6 months preceding the expiration date, and up until the last day of the expiration month, without surcharge. After this date, the office grants a further 6 months to request the renewal, but with increased charges.

In the European Union, trademarks that have been registered for 5 years or more but are not being used within the territory of the European Union become vulnerable to cancellation actions for non-use. The use of the trademark in one of the EU territories is considered sufficient use. Furthermore, if a trademark owner files an opposition based on a trademark that has been registered for more than 5 years but is not being used, the opposition might be rejected on the basis of non-use.

European Union trademarks are accepted by Amazon's brand registry and their owners are therefore entitled to the advantages such a registration allows for Amazon sellers.

Did you know?

The EUIPO (formally known as the OHIM, or Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market) was founded in 1994 but the first trademarks were only processed in 1996. According to the statistics provided by WIPO, the number of trademarks filed each year, whether locally or via the Madrid system, has gone from about 43 000 in 1996 to 144000 in 2017.

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