OHIM clarifies language regime

European Union

Following the European Court of Justice's (ECJ) decision in the Kik Case, the president of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) has issued a communication that clarifies the use of the nominated second language in correspondence relating to application, opposition and cancellation proceedings.

In the Kik Case, the ECJ upheld the legality and clarified the application of the language regime set out in Article 115 of the Community Trademark Regulation. This regime provides that Community trademark applications must be filed in one of the official languages of the OHIM. However, if the applicant files its application in a language other than one of the five main OHIM languages, namely English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, the applicant must also indicate which of those five it wishes to use as a second language. Based on Article 115, the OHIM had become accustomed to communicating with applicants using their nominated second language. However, the Kik ruling clarified that the OHIM should only use the second language for non-procedural communications such as covering letters. All other documents required or prescribed for the processing of Community trademark applications should be in the language used for filing the application.

The OHIM president's communication implements this ruling and the OHIM will now communicate with applicants (or their representatives) in the first language of the application unless the applicants (or their representatives) inform the OHIM that they wish to receive all communications in the second language. It also indicates that, as a result of the enlargement of the European Union, the official languages of the OHIM now include Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Slovak and Slovenian.

The addition of these new languages represents a considerable challenge for the OHIM. It remains to be seen whether this and the added requirements on communication in the language used to file an application will slow OHIM procedure.

For a discussion of the Kik Case, see Community Trademark Regulation language regime is legal.

Friederike Bahr, Beiten Burkhardt, Munich

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