OHIM fees set to be overhauled

European Union

The European Commission's Trademark Working Group started on March 17 a series of meetings to examine the commission's draft regulation amending Regulation 2869/95 on the fees payable to the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM). The draft proposes changes in the levels of fees, notably in relation to new applications for Community trademarks, renewals, appeals and proceedings to revoke or invalidate a Community trademark. The proposal comes as a consequence of the OHIM's accumulated budget surplus of €92 million.

The most interesting proposed changes appear to be in application fees. Currently, the official fee for a new application is €975. This covers up to three classes of goods or services with extra classes costing €200 each. Under the proposals, the application fee will become €600 with each class over three classes costing €150. In addition, there will be an even lower application fee of €500 if the application is made online.

The reduction reflects a willingness on the part of the OHIM to make the income raised by the fees reflect the cost in processing the task. The OHIM currently makes a substantial profit on the fees raised by new applications. However, it makes a loss in other areas and the proposed regulation amends certain other fees to reflect this. The cost of an application to revoke or invalidate a registered Community trademark increases by €300 and the cost of an appeal increases by €400. Given that the fee to oppose the registration of a Community trademark will be almost a third of that for seeking to cancel a mark, the recommendation must be that, if the proposed regulation is passed, brand owners should be particularly careful to watch for new applications rather than rely upon cancellation once the mark is registered. If they do not, they risk having to pay increased fees.

The working group's next meeting on the draft regulation is scheduled for April 28. However, the proposal has already met resistance from a large number of member states who remain unconvinced that the OHIM's budget surpluses should be used solely to fund fee reductions.

Aaron Wood, Hammonds, London

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