European Union one step closer to amended trademark law

European Union

The European Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market has issued its report on the proposed changes to the Community Trademark Regulation. The report includes the following changes:

  • Textual amendments clarifying the European Commission's proposal on the issue.

  • Changes relating to marks containing geographical indications (GIs) and designations of origin (DOs). First, Article 7(1)(j) on absolute grounds for refusal of Community trademark registrations is to be amended to cover wine and spirit names containing a protected GI, even when the true origin of the product is indicated or the GI is accompanied by a word such as 'type' or 'kind'. This will bring the text in line with Article 23(1) of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. Second, Article 8(5) on relative grounds for refusal is to be amended to provide protection for the proprietors of Community GIs and DOs.

  • Amendments expanding on some of the commission's proposals. Articles 130 and 131 are to be amended and a new Article 131(a) introduced to (i) improve the procedures for appointing members of the Boards of Appeal of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, and (ii) establish an umbrella Administrative Tribunal, headed by a chairman, that will act as an enlarged board to decide cases involving novel issues.

The committee's report is expected to be approved by the European Parliament in September. It still remains to be seen whether the European Council of Ministers will then accept the final text, particularly the proposed deletion of Article 39 and ensuing abolishment of the national search systems.

For background information on the commission's proposal, see Community Trademark Regulation may be overhauled. For a discussion of the abolition of national search systems, see European Commission plans to scrap national searches.

Gavan Ferguson, FR Kelly & Co, Dublin

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