Commission proposes regular review of OHIM fees

European Union

The European Commission has proposed the introduction of a regular and automatic review of Community trademark fees to guarantee a reasonable balance between revenue and expenditure in the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market's (OHIM) budget.

OHIM is a self-financing agency with a budget that is independent from the budget of the European Union and that is mainly funded by the fees paid by businesses for its services. As a non-profit organization, OHIM's budget must be balanced, so cash surpluses are not acceptable in the long term.

OHIM's fees were reduced at the end of 2005 (see OHIM lowers Community trademark fees) to reduce the existing cash surpluses, but it is expected that OHIM could still generate substantial further cash reserves in the coming years. This is because of the continuously rising number of Community trademark and design applications being filed, combined since April 2006 with renewal fees for Community trademarks. It is expected that cumulative cash reserves could reach nearly €700 million by the end of 2016.

The European Commission proposes to introduce a method of regular and automatic review of OHIM's fees based on financial perspectives. A regular fees review should be applied in circumstances of both budget surpluses and shortages, making use of a standard approach in which the most important fees should move upwards or downwards as necessary. However, at least in the short term, fees are expected to decrease rather than increase.

The commission intends to present proposals for an amendment of Commission Regulation 2869/95 in the second quarter of 2007.

Angela Heffermann, Sattler & Schanda, Vienna

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