Another OHIM scandal -- the IPKat names the culprit

The IPKat is filled with reforming zeal this morning, since he has identified a dreadful blot on the escutcheon of that fairest of jewels in the European Union's crown, OHIM. He wants to see an end to the tiresome and carbon-costly naming of the place that deals with Community trade marks and designs as the "Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) (OHIM)", which is how it is always referred to on the European Court of Justice's Curia website, or as the "Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union", which is how it is designated on the English version of its website (click here for the French and German versions). Apart from the fact that it wastes print cartridges and consumes space on the page, it's also a dreadful mouthful to say and increases the risk of repetitive strain injury (if that condition exists) among typists. In short, it's an ugly affront to the fabled European skills of design and style-creation.

To this end, the IPKat is running a poll (see the sidebar on the left) to choose the name from which the office, European legislation permitting, should preferably be known from 1 January 2010. Your choices are as follows:

* Retain Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) (OHIM) on the basis that at least we know what it is, thanks to distinctiveness acquired through years of use [If you use Twitter, beware: this name consumes 80 out of your 140 available characters];
* opt for Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union, which does at least have the virtue of describing some of the things done there, along with oppositions, cancellations and very, very rarely, short lunch breaks and restitutio in integrum [Twitter factor, 65];
* Throw national pride to the wind and go for OAMI, the office's suave, slightly seductive Spanish acronym;
* Find something quite funky and in-yer-face like The Brand and Design Factory;
* Follow the admirable example of Australia and choose IP Europe.
After much thought, the IPKat decided not to add Shangri-La or its close and not inappropriate neighbour Shangri-Law, notwithstanding the paradisaic conditions in Alicante, lest the decision should ever be taken to move the office to some less attractive location.

If you don't like any of the above -- or even if you do, but you have a better idea -- email your own suggestion to the IPKat here and let him know. If there are any really good suggestions, he'll organise another poll in which the best new ideas will be run off against whichever name tops this poll.

This poll is emphatically open to employees of the European Commission and its various organs, whose creativity is welcome.
Another OHIM scandal -- the IPKat names the culprit Another OHIM scandal -- the IPKat names the culprit Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, September 30, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. Just what would be wrong with the EU Trademarks and Designs Office, EU-TDO? We already have e.g. the BPO, the US-PTO, the JPO, the EPO...

  2. @anonymous:
    With your proposal, the European Union will have another excuse to put any EU activities related to patents in another very costly body with at least equally costly official having costly meetings requiring costly travel, lodging and dinners.

    If you keep the name broader, related to IP in general, you can put merge the EU patent activities (not to be confused with the EPC activities) in the distant future that Spain and Italy (among others) will finally agree that German, English and French will do perfectly for patent documents and that we will finally have a community patent (oh, I love the London agreement - and my clients as well).

    Just thinking along the lines of the IPKat's recent posting on frivolous broad strategic WIPO meetings...

  3. D-R-I-P

    Department for the Registration of Intellectual Property


    Bureau for the Assessment of Trade Marks and Registered Designs


    Community Registry for European Property Exploitation


    Department Industriel Valorisation Origine et Registration Communite Europeene


    Office for the Registration of Community Assets

  4. I'm only voting for OAMI if it means getting rid of the other variations too (HABM + OHMI).

    Guess they've dropped "harmonisation" due to fact there's not even a common acronym.

  5. Too many people already think that OHIM’s registers for trade marks and designs are the only design and trade mark register in Europe, and overlook the national registers, as well as the International register.

    If the name of OHIM is changed to IP Europe – or any other name which contains Europe – even more people will be mistaken into thinking that OHIM’s registers are the only ones which contain rights in European countries. IP Australia can call itself IP Australia because it is the only trade marks register in Australia. The same could not be said of OHIM, if it changes its name to IP Europe. So, my vote would be for a title which does exactly what it says on the tin – The Office for Registration of Community Trade Marks and Designs.

  6. Let's try and avoid IPEU for obvious reasons...

  7. @Jaspar - do you really think that, politically speaking, all the member states who don't presently have a large EU agency/institution within their borders would stand for the enlargement of OHIM to include patenting functions, in the event that an EU patent office eventually needed creating?

    Never gonna happen....

  8. The Interinstitutional Style Guide of the EU, of obligatory application for all those involved in EU document production, states clearly that the correct is "Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs)", and specifies "(Do not use ‘Office for Trade Marks’.)"
    (see footnote 15 in

    The gang of harebrains that currently mismanages the Office just chose to ignore it, as everything else that has something to do with the EU (once they have given you the monopoly of the CTM and the RCD, what's the use of this bunch of irksome bureaucrats?).

    As for the name, I'll go for Ohimstan, as in "Wubborat: Cultural Learnings of Pre-industrial societies for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Ohimstan".

  9. OAMI, for "Overblown Academy of Management Incompetence", or "Office for the Appointment of Mediocre Intimates".

  10. @anonymous 13:11 :
    Well agreed this will not happen. In particular not because the EPO is envisaged to conduct the patenting procedures (at least one light in the darkness...).

    But community patent enforcement will probably need to be guided from an EU level - at least in the opinion of the EU. And the EU will probably require a body for that.

    And I'd rather see such activities added to the current OHIM than the creation of a new body in (yet) another EU member state for such activities.

  11. Those silly Australians, why would they choose IP Europe...!

  12. How about something that really reflects the work ethic, long lunch breaks and random holidays taken by the Office...perhaps along the lines of I.A.T. - Is Anybody There..?!

  13. Strange that you've missed the option that is staring at you in the face. What's wrong with "OHIM"?

  14. There is somebody there, but after so many useless reorganisations, disorganisations and redisorganisations, externalisations and outsourcings, merging of various departments into one and splitting of one into different ones every other month, renaming of sectors, sections and teams, continuous changes in your tasks, directors in charge of two different departments and departments without directors, middle managers come today, gone tomorrow, absurd hirings and firings by the batch, external consultants by the dozens, temporary workers by the hundreds, people of the new EU countries coming and then leaving for better jobs in the other EU institutions... you just don't know what you are supposed to do, what department you are working in, who your boss is and who do you have to contact to resolve a problem.

    It is so difficult, tedious and futile to update all these changes that the names of the departments and their respective directors are different if you look in Outlook, the Intranet, the Annual Report, the stationery, etc. In practice that means that, for example, if you want to use one of the templates to write a letter, you will find that there is no template yet for your department, or that the header is outdated with one of the old names, or that the signature belongs to someone who left the Office years ago. If you try to contact someone to explain you something, you will find an Adecco employee who does not even know what a CTM is and who will leave before having the time to learn it. And so on.

    To cut a long story short, this is an incredible mess, hard to believe for anyone from outside, and the people who are really running the Office against all odds are the heads of sectors and sections, while what in the Office passes for managers live the life of rock stars, flying around the world in Business Class to eat in the best restaurants and stay in the best hotels on the flimsiest of the excuses.

    And if you complain that there is nobody there, just wait for the application of the new housing policy that will turn the Office upside down.

  15. Not as exciting and certainly not as amusing as what I have read on this blog, the proposal would be
    EC IPO, against just what is in the tin (although not disclosing the siesta side of the product!)

  16. As we call the output CTMs or Community Registered Designs, how about the CTMDO? (Community Trade Mark and Design Office)?

    Whilst I like "IP Europe", we have the difficulty that the European Patent Office also deals with things that are often accepted as IP, in a geographic area which overlaps substantially with the EU. To have a European Patent Office and a European IP Office would leave it unclear from the names as to where the boundaries lie. Maybe when we get a community patent we can then have the European IP office, IP Europe or something similar.

  17. One might look forward, at least in English language terms, English being the Lingua Franca of IP, to starting with EUDO and EURO (possibly spelt EU®O) , which covers the present office in Alicante, and then moving on to EU©O and EUPO, all of which could finally federate into EUIPO. Replace “U” by “M” if you are a fan of ICIREPAT codes. For the very farsighted, replace "EU" with WO"!

  18. Well this has certainly produced a number reactions from the disaffected in the Office. My challenge to "Anonymous" of 1138 30 Sept is this:

    If you are so unhappy and so dislike the way the Office is managed why do you not do what most people in such a situation would do: go and get a job in another organisation. I can tell you from the responses to our vacancy notices that there are very many people who would love to have your job!

  19. I always like the name OHIM. But hey, why not confuse and irritate everyone and call it by its German name "HABM"... :-)

    EU IPO would perhaps make it easier for our international audience.

  20. I think the EPO would object to EU-IPO. Why not EDTO (and its french equivalent: OEDEMA?)

  21. @Peter Lawrence.

    If you are indeed Mr Lawrence, head of OHIM, I might suggest that your time would be better spent resolving what are clearly some reasonably serious issues of staff discontent, rather than sniping at unsatisfied workers on IP blogs.

    However, I strongly suspect that the head of a large European organisation would have more sense than to expose himself in such a rash manner...

    Going back to the subject in hand though - I think that something along the "CDTMO" suggestions would be best - "OHIM" is certainly confusing for those not immersed in EU or IP affairs, and trade marks and designs are IPRs which are used fairly heavily by people who aren't that directly involved in IP. It would help greatly to make things clearer for them, and wouldn't detract from the usefulness of the title for IP professionals.

  22. Dear Peter, it's me, Anonymous.

    I would like to take the opportunity of Jeremy’s emphatical and specifical invitation to the EU employees to take up your challenge.

    You do not deny any of my statements, which is an implicit admission of the Office’s current state of disarray.

    I’m sure you are not surprised to see a number of reactions from the disaffected, since you know perfectly well that the percentage of staff that does not have any confidence in the decisions taken by the top management of the Office amounts to 72% (14% don’t know, and 14% are on your side). You have managed to certify the OHIM as an international benchmark for worst practice in terms of management of human resources, a paragon of ineptitude. This is a fact, clearly established by the study you ordered, you paid with 85.000 € from the user’s money (and when the user’s money talks, bullshit walks), and that you hide to them.

    With regard to the alleged success of your vacancy notices, you know (or you should know) that many (or most?) of the new recruits, particularly those of the new Member States, stay just as long as they need to find an indefinite contract in the Commission, the Council, etc, instead of the temporary non-renewable contracts that you offer. In short, the revolving door turns too fast even for your standards, and you are wasting lots of the user’s money on recruiting and training people who are already in other EU bodies waiting lists and expecting, all bags packed, to be called to a job with some kind of prospects.

    As for your “challenge”, Peter, we all have to admit is that you have managed to get the best of the two worlds: the monopoly and the appointment given by the public sector, and the flexibility of the private, without the hindrances of any of them: no competitors, no government constraints. Can you imagine a private company with a Management Committee disapproved by 72% of the staff? You would have been fired by the shareholders well before reaching 50%. But we don’t have these annoying party poopers in the OHIM, have we? Can you imagine offshoring jobs to India o Madagascar in the public sector, with the current unemployment rates? If you dared, you would not need to waste the user’s money in paying external contractors to hit the newspapers headlines. But in the OHIM we don’t have these public interferences either: into the no man’s land that is the EU, we live in the twilight zone of the self-financing European agencies. Well done indeed, Peter, well done: you can virtually act as the owner of the OHIM. Even more, in the Office you can allow yourself to do things no one would ever do with a company of his own.


  23. (continuation of preceding message)

    But you seem to have forgotten that you are not, in fact, the owner of the Office. If you were the founder of Ikea, Zara or Aldi and I was your employee, you could throw me this challenge, and I would have to take it. Fair enough. But the sad truth is that, in spite of your (transitory, I hope) delusions of grandeur, you are just a breadwinner like myself, a colleague who works with me for the same organization, so you cannot play real private sector with me nor with anyone else, at least until you have founded your own private company, Peter.

    Anyway, I’m willing to take up your challenge just for the sake of it. In relation to your puerile OHIM-love-it-or-leave-it offer, Peter, I suppose that, after such a long time of living surrounded by the grateful stomachs of the Management Committee, always willing to laugh at all your jokes, applaud all your proposals and anticipate all your wishes in exchange of a post or a promotion, you have grown accustomed to never being confronted and, as a result, you have lost ingenuity and punch. I think that in the context of the IP Kat you should raise your standards to those of an informed, independent and highly critical audience. I’m saying this because when I was at school I learned, in the propositional calculus course, that this either-you're-for-me-or-against-me naive trick of yours is called a common fallacy of false dilemma (if you want further information on this topic, please feel free to hire yet another external advisor to enlighten you for 30.000 € of the user’s money, as usual: the Court of Auditors will be glad), and the way out of it is looking for other options. Do you have any tricks for non-subordinate adults? Anyway, there are many other options, but the one I (and many other people in the Office) have chosen is just sit pleasantly waiting on the shore of the river until we see your body pass by.

    Have a nice day, and my excuses to any reader of this blog who, understandably, may not be interested in this matter.

  24. Heavens to Betsy, it seems like the IPKat has opened a can of worms here...!

  25. From one of those "grateful stomachs of the Management Committee" (concretely the youngest Spaniard one)

    Dear Anonymous,

    Have you realized that the body you are waiting to see passing by has been designated as a top manager of the OHIM by the Council of Ministers of the EU, which represents several hundreds of millions of EU citizens? Would you say that an EU top manager appointed by the EU Council is the same breadwinner as you are, just another colleague who works with you? Would you say you have the same legitimacy than him to decide on how OHIM shall be managed?
    In my humble opinion, it is rather your attitude of considering that you can sit and pleasantly wait (by the way, what about waiting while you work, at your level, for the interest of the users?), whatever happens and whoever manages OHIM, which shows a feeling of strange ownership of your job and, by extension, of the OHIM.

  26. Dear Juan Ramón (hereinafter JR), forgive my perplexity for your (and Peter’s) determination to debate here with me on the mismanagement of the OHIM instead of doing it in the more appropriate context of the regular meetings with the Staff Committee. However, considering that these meetings are yet another neglected part of the management’s job, I will invest some of my time to answer your rhetorical questions.

    First of all, you needn’t hide the management ineptitude (I’m not blaming everything on Peter, far from it) behind the skirts of the Council: if you had read my text before answering it (a custom you will find very useful in case some day you wish to become a manager - a real one, I mean), you would have seen that the legitimacy of the posts has never been questioned. It is just a matter of mere, plain and simple incompetence, so do not change the subject, unless you think you can make somebody believe that EU employees are an Audi-riding horde of crypto-bolshevik Huns eager to demolish the foundations of democracy and the rule of law.

    However, I must admit you might have a point when you say that Peter is “not the same breadwinner that I am”, but not by his designation by the Council in all its glory (after all, even the Council, blessed be its name, may it live forever and ever, Amen, can screw it up from time to time, having not been invested, please correct me if I am wrong, with the gift of infallibility by the Holy Spirit nor by the Member States), but because breadwinners like me would never botch their job the way Peter does. No, but seriously, have you ever heard of any Human Resources Director who didn’t know how many people are working in his company, not even approximately? It would be unbelievable, were it not in the minutes of his meeting with the Staff Committee. Even considering the disdain Peter feels towards the staff, and his willingness to show it at every possible occasion, any breadwinner in his position with an average standard of dignity, if not of work ethics, would try to gather a few essential notions about the job he is supposed to do, if only out of sense of the ridiculous. So, OK, I give you this one, Peter and me are not the same kind of breadwinners.

    You will excuse me, JR, if I wonder at the “humbleness” of your “Do your job whatever happens and whoever manages”, or Peter’s “OHIM love it or leave it”. Well, I do not even want to know where did you both acquire this bizarre Human Resources philosophy (not in any regular school, university or master, of course), but one thing anyone can tell you is that this looks like two drops of water with “Mussolini ha sempre ragione” or “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer”. No wonder some readers of this blog think you are impostors, because this kind of treatment to the employees is hard to believe for people outside the Office. In any case, thank you for being yourselves and, in answer to your question, no, we are not machines, we have conscience, scruples, dignity and all the other attributes, call them flaws if you want, that come with human nature. For more information about us, you can consult any elementary Human Resources Management manual.


  27. (continuation of preceding message)

    Another sample of your “humbleness” is when you assume, “by the way”, that while I wait until I see Peter’s body pass by I’m not doing my work. The long stay of your fanny on a chair at the Management Committee must have made you forget that the mobile vulgus of the OHIM (except the so-called managers, of course) have targets to meet, even though most of us would reach them anyway, just because we love our work. Funny, this lack of humbleness of yours when you have more reasons than anyone in the OHIM to be humble, being as you are, JR, the architect (after all, Peter has been all the time sitting on his hands as far as his responsibilities as Human Resources Director were concerned) of the two most memorable fiascos in the short history of the Office, namely the selection procedure for the president of the Boards of Appeal, annuled by the European Court of Justice, and the recent debacle of the Staff Survey. Are you ever going, “by the way”, to disclose its embarrassing results, or this is not “in the interest of the users”? After all, they paid for it with their money, didn’t they? Where did all this talk of openness and transparency go?

    I am ready to concede that you are “not the same breadwinner that I am” either, JR, because in your place I would have resigned after such a blunder. Not only for a question of dignity (“vergüenza torera”, as they say), but also because, even if you are not in Human Resources any more, how do you want your current subordinates to trust you in the least after the mess you made while you were there? How would you feel if you worked in a bank and the former Lehman Brothers President were to be your boss? Understandably, they see you as a plague.


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