L’Oréal revealed as EUIPO's top trademark filer as office experiences Brexit-related volatility

  • L’Oréal was top trademark filer at the EUIPO in 12 months to end of May 2017
  • Nike headed up the list of top filers of Community designs
  • Despite growth in applications, EUIPO experiencing volatility due to Brexit

Exclusive data compiled by World Trademark Review has revealed the top corporate and representative filers at the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for the year to June 2017. L’Oréal sits in top spot, with a number of Asian technology brands close behind. While international brand powerhouses continue to utilise European-wide protection, the office experienced volatility in filing levels last year, which it attributed in part to the Brexit vote.

In the latest edition of World Trademark Review magazine, we assess data supplied direct from the EUIPO and reveal the top 50 trademark owner and representatives applicants for EU trademarks in the 12 months to the end of May 2017. We also identified the top 25 Community registered design representative applicants. The full data set is available exclusively to subscribers here, with the top 10 trademark owner applicants for EU trademarks for that period revealed as:

  1. L’Oréal (France)
  2. LG Electronics Inc (South Korea)
  3. Samsung Electronics Co, Ltd (South Korea )
  4. Dracco Brands Holdings APS (Denmark)
  5. Huawei Technologies Co Ltd (China)
  6. Jansen Schoonhoven Consultancy BV (Netherlands)
  7. Batmark (Great Britain)
  8. Eveline Cosmetics Brand Concept Development SP ZOO (Poland)
  9. Jaguar Land Rover Ltd (Great Britain)
  10. ADP Gauselmann GMBH (Germany)

Of these, only Jaguar Land Rover appears on the top 25 list of corporate registered Community design applicants – the latter list headed by Nike and featuring such tech and electronic giants as Google, Bosch, Dyson Technologies, Philips and Apple. Taken together, the full data set provides a unique glimpse into the European filing landscape, providing insight into how brands are utilising different types of IP and which firms are benefitting from the filing work.

However, looking ahead the picture isn’t wholly predictable in that respect, with the office grappling with volatile filing demand. Looking back at 2016 in the EUIPO’s Annual Report, executive director António Campinos noted that – while the first half of the year had experienced high growth in demand for trademarks – external factors such as the Brexit vote meant that the second half of the year saw fewer filings, with a corresponding fall in international registrations from the World Intellectual Property Organisation. He observed: “The year ended with overall growth in trademarks of 3.7%, which was lower than expected… Figures for demand relating to European trademarks and designs continue to be very volatile and are being closely monitored.”

That volatility could certainly intensify depending on the nature of Brexit. We have written at some length on the potential impact of the UK’s exit from the EU on practitioners and rights holders. The worst case is that – once the UK exits in April 2019 – grants from the EUIPO will no longer cover the United Kingdom, while trademark decisions handed down by either the court of first instance or the European Court of Justice will not apply automatically. Meanwhile, United Kingdom representatives practising before the EUIPO will no longer be able to do so.

The hope is that a compromise is negotiated and The European Commission is due to publish its Brexit intellectual property position paper imminently (and we will bring you analysis as soon as it is released). This will provide insight into the starting point for discussions from an EU perspective but there is a long way to go. At present, then, there is little certainty on what the final outcome will look like and the over-arching Brexit talks are not going smoothly. Just last week the EU’s chief negotiator expressed concern over progress and urged the United Kingdom to start “negotiating seriously”. Clarity for intellectual property practitioners, then, remains a way off.

In terms of filing volatility, should UK-based practitioners lose the ability to practice before the EUIPO, a significant contributor to the EUIPO’s coffers will be lost; at present UK professional representatives are responsible for nearly a quarter of EU trademark applications (with a similar proportion observed on the list of top 50 representative filers we published this month).

Any subsequent loss in revenues will be keenly felt. While the office has run at a surplus for many years, when it published its Strategic Plan 2020 it warned that a likely future drop in income (expected to be between €20 million and €40 million due to the impact of fee reductions and predicted changes in applicant behaviour) and the treatment of the funding of decentralised European agencies “may put the level of service provided by the office to applicants and other stakeholders at risk”. This year the EUIPO reported that its 2017 budget complies with the 5% reduction of the office’s establishment plan, as required by the current Interinstitutional Agreement. Against a backdrop of tightened finances, unpredictable revenues are an unwelcome development for the office.

Of course, companies will still seek trademark protection, whether at EU and/or UK level, and the volatility will subside once certainty about the future regime is established. For now, though, practitioners, brand owners and the office are left to play a guessing game as to exactly what the future holds. In terms of the current Brexit situation, that is the case for everyone, not just the trademark community.

The full data sets and related analysis are available in the latest issue of World Trademark Review, which subscribers can access here

Unlock unlimited access to all WTR content