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Thursday, 8 November 2007

Not all pirates are infringers ...

Can it really be true that national IP offices have voted to rob both the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market -- which runs the Community trade mark system -- and CTM users? News has reached the IPKat of a strange decision, apparently taken by the Budget Committee of OHIM in Alicante on 7 November. The Budget Committee has the power to set the fees paid to national offices for the search reports produced when you apply for a CTM. Readers may remember that the Commission wanted to abolish these reports on the ground that only a few people seemed to think they were of any value -- but national offices opposed this since it would mean losing a handy source of income. The compromise was to make the search reports optional, and the switch to the new system happens on 10 March next year.

Well ... it seems that the Budget Committee has decided to increase the fee which the Office pays to each national office from the present €12 per report per office to a fee of €16. The strange thing is that OHIM itself can at present only charge applicants €12 under the current fee regulation. This means that the difference will have to be made up by OHIM, which gets its income from fees paid by those who do not want these new optional searches.

But that's not all. In another development, it appears that the number of national offices carrying out these searches will stay at 17, as at present. But in future there will not be any searches from the Benelux Office, which has announced that it will withdraw. This apparent reduction in coverage will however be compensated by the future inclusion of ... Malta.

Asks the IPKat, are we to hear any more about this intriguing subject? Can these scurrilous rumours be denied? We Kats know that a lot of influential people read this weblog and we hope that, if the news is correct, they will stand up and do something about it.

Merpel adds, aren't most of the Members of the Budget Committee - who voted on this matter - from the national offices? To whom are they answerable for their decisions?

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