The Community trade mark (CTM) system is a game that can be played in many different ways. The IPKat has long suspected that anyone who looks at OHIM Board of Appeal decisions in opposition proceedings will discover a curious imbalance of national interests. Now he knows that he is right.  Earlier this month he persuaded a student to review no fewer than 400 decisions of the Boards of Appeal between 26 May and 30 June 2004.  Of the 400 opposition appeals reviewed, 124 of them were filed by German opponents, counting for 31% of the total. A further 109 (that's more than 27%) came from Spanish opponents. Major trade mark owning countries such as the United States (35, or 8.75%), France (32, or 8%) and the UK (17, or 4%) appear quite inactive in comparison.

The IPKat wonders why this imbalance should exist, particular with regard to the frequency with which CTM oppositions are filed by the Spanish, a smaller economy than Germany. Various explanations exist. For example:

* The Spanish are far more alert to threats to their earlier rights;
* The Spanish own far more prior rights than other nationalities and therefore have more to protect;
* The Spanish have made a business out of filing marks they have no genuine entitlement to, for their nuisance value in CTM oppositions in which they get "bought out" by applicants anxious for European coverage;
* The Spanish profession file oppositions without having taken instructions from the clients and then seek to persuade their clients to accept what they've done.

What, the IPKat asks, do you think? What is indeed the true explanation of this unusual imbalance?

File your Spanish trade mark here
Spanish brands here, here and --  if you can take the heat -- here
OHIM AND THE SPANISH QUESTION OHIM AND THE SPANISH QUESTION Reviewed by Jeremy on Friday, July 30, 2004 Rating: 5


Anonymous said...

This doesn't surprise me at all. In fact I am meeting with a client this morning to discuss two oppositions that have been filed against its CTM application and guess what? One has been filed by a German firm and the other has been filed by a Spanish firm! And neither has any merit but the whole process will cause extra expense to my client.

Keep up the good work!

Peter Groves said...

I have a Spanish firm threatening to oppose an application I filed recently for a US client, so if this reveals the answer to the conundrum I'll let you all know!

Anonymous said...

I confirm, as a U.S. practitioner, that my clients continually face groundless oppositions from European companies. 95% of them are German. It is not unusual to receive more than one opposition from more than one German company per application. All they want is to whittle down the identification of goods or services, and they know we will rather than spend the time and money to overcome the groundless opposition.

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