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Trademark law and registers

At a time when competition is increasing in most industries and from different countries, it is often the strength of the brand that determines the value of the organisation.

A brand is a ‘sign’ that distinguishes the goods or services of a company. In practice, almost all trademarks are registered as a brand name or symbol, such as a name and a logo. Brands are mainly used to differentiate the organisation and its products and services from the competition. Trademark law is a specific area of expertise in which it is important to know the rules of play.

Each country has its own specific rules. Alongside national trademark registers, European and international regulations in the field of trademark law are important. After all, if you are active outside your home country, it is essential that your trademark rights are well protected there too. In practice, there are several options open to you.

Trademark law

With the rules of conduct laid down in a national Trademark Act, producers and owners are provided with tools to protect their brand names. Brands are increasingly the tool that entrepreneurs use to communicate their business message. But a brand does more. It enhances the image, stands for quality and some brands even represent a particular generation (lifestyle). Trademark law thus provides essential tools for companies. Tools that allow them to operate freely, so that their Intellectual Property can come to full maturity. It provides opportunities to take action against parties that infringe upon your rights or want to take advantage of your brand name and your efforts to be successful.

Read about trademarks registers

National registration

If you are only active nationally, you can register your brand in a national trademark register. The registration of this brand is valid in the country in question, with its own rules. In the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, for example, trademark law enshrined in the Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property (BCIP, also referred to as Benelux trademark law). A UK trade mark registration covers England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. A UK registration can for example be extended to Jersey and Guernsey by application to the respective trade mark offices in those Islands at additional cost. In France, the administrative authority that receives these applications is the French National Institute of Intellectual Property (Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle, INPI) whilst in Switzerland the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property is the federal agency responsible for all matters concerning Intellectual Property.

European Union Trade Mark (EU TM)

If your organisation has international ambitions within the European Union, it may be desirable to register your trademarks in all countries of the European Union via a European Trade Mark (EU TM). Since 1996, this can be done by registering your trademark with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The EUIPO is the official body that registers trademarks and designs for all 27 Member States of the European Union. Remark: Switzerland is for example not a member of the European Economic Community. Accordingly, a EU TM registration has no legal effect in Switzerland. In order to obtain trademark protection in Switzerland, it is necessary to file either a Swiss national application or to request territorial extension to Switzerland of an International Registration.

International Registration

If your ambitions go beyond an individual country or the European Union, then International Registration offers important mechanisms. The Madrid Protocol enables you to internationally register your trademark on the basis of a national registration. The scope of this registration is enormous and offers protection in 98 countries. The application must be submitted to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva.

Whatever country you operate or want to operate in, active trademark protection is crucial for your business. Novagraaf possesses global expertise and can advise you about local legislation and trademark law. Novagraaf can also take care of your registration in the appropriate trademarks register. Our specialists can also tell more about trademark development, trademark search and trademark watching. For more information, please contact us by means of the contact form on the right top of this page.