From October 2016 to March 2017 the team is joined by Guest Kats Rosie Burbidge and Eibhlin Vardy, and by InternKats Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo, Tian Lu and Hayleigh Bosher.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Breaking news: EU trade mark reforms adopted by the EU Parliament (and some news on trade secrets)


Most of our readers will have - vaguely? - heard that 2016 will see some of the most important reforms to EU trade mark laws since the introduction of the Community trade mark in 1996.  The new EU Trade Marks Directive will come into force early next year and there will also be a new Community Trade Mark Regulation. See previous IPKat posts on this topic here.

Wake up!  EU trade mark reforms are on their way?
The IPKat has learned from James Thomson (whose full title is "Head of Stakeholder Engagement and Media Relations Intellectual Property Office" and definitely deserves a grateful Kat pat!) that the European Parliament has today adopted a package of proposals governing EU laws on trade marks.

The changes to the CTMR will be quite considerable and will, inter alia, affect "broad" specifications of goods and services of CTMs which cover "class heading" terms (which are interpreted literally) and the application fees for CTMs/EU trade marks (no more one fee for three classes, but fees for each class). There are also changes concerning the seizure of counterfeit goods which are in transit through the EU: a seizure is now possible even in cases where the goods were not meant for the EU, unless they would not be infringing in the country of their final destination, whereby the burden of proof is on the alleged infringer.  Finally, CTMs will be called EU trade marks and OHIM will be called “European Union Intellectual Property Office” or short EUIPO.

The EU parliament's press release [corrected - informal information for journalists] of today's date can be found here.  In it rapporteur Cecilia Wikström is quoted as follows:
"The trade mark system in Europe functions well but is in need of a modernisation.Parliament has consistently kept the users of the system at the forefront of the discussionand we are glad to see a system that will provide a lot of added value for users.
We also already had some feedback from UK Minister for IP, Baroness Neville Rolfe (via James Thomson). Baroness Neville Rolfe said:
"Every business has a trade mark.  It is important that businesses understand the need to register their marks to get the best protection for their brand and reputation.   A reformed European trade mark system will deliver real benefits for trade mark users and the UK has been a key partner throughout negotiations.
 "The changes to the Directive and the Regulation should increase legal certainty and clarity for businesses looking to register and enforce their trade mark rights in Europe.  The convergence of trade mark practices and processes throughout the EU will create a more robust and streamlined system fit for the digital age. "In 2016 we will be seeking the views on how we should make changes to UK laws to reflect the Directive."
The European Parliament was quite busy today and also "provisionally" agreed on pan-European rules on trade secret protection.  The press release, which can be found here, inter alia, states
"The [trade secrets] directive, which lays down common measures against the unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure of trade secrets, aims at ensuring a smooth functioning internal market. It is also intended to have a deterrent effect against the illegal disclosure of trade secrets, without undermining fundamental rights and freedoms or the public interest, such as public safety, consumer protection, public health, environmental protection and mobility of workers." 
This is certainly not the last time the IPKat will report on these quite far reaching changes...

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