We have been waiting for the European Commission to officially announce its proposed overhaul of the European trademark system since the Max Planck Institute submitted its Study on the Overall Functioning of the European Trade Mark System in February 2011.
As yet, the Commission has not made any announcements. However, draft legislation by the European Commission was recently leaked and has given rise to much speculation by sector associations and the press.
It is an unofficial document which allegedly contains the European Commission’s amendments to the Trade Marks Directive, Community Trade Mark Regulation and the Fees Regulation.
The following is a summary of some of the expected changes according to the leaked draft document:
Changes affecting the Community trademark system:
- The "Community trade mark" or CTM will become the "European Trademark" (ETM) and the OHIM will become “The European Union Trademarks and Designs Agency”
- The filing of CTMs at national offices will be abolished
- Conducting optional searches of some national registries will also be abolished
Main changes in national offices:
- The ex officio examination of earlier rights currently conducted by 12 national European agencies will be abolished
- The recast Directive provides for mandatory administrative opposition and invalidity proceedings to be lodged before the national office without involving the courts.
- In opposition proceedings before national offices, it will be possible to request proof of use from opposing brands in the same way as was allowed in opposition proceedings against Community trademarks.
The European Commission is expected to officially announce its proposal in April this year. Until such time we can only speculate as to whether it will be the same as the draft legislation leaked.