OHIM introduces practice changes

European Union
Following consultations with the OAMI Users' Group this spring, the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) is introducing some changes in practice on suspensions and extensions of time, as well as new guidelines on the presentation of evidence of proof of use in opposition proceedings. These changes will take effect on September 15 2010.
Under the new policy, if a suspension is requested by the parties in opposition proceedings, OHIM will grant it for a period of one year, instead of variable periods at present. Subsequent requests will be granted for the same period. During all suspensions, any party will be able to opt out and bring the suspension to an end. With regard to extensions, any first request for an extension - during examinations, oppositions or cancellations - which is received in time will always be granted. However, any subsequent request for an extension of the same period of time will be refused, unless the party requesting the second extension demonstrates that there are exceptional circumstances.
With regard to evidence of proof of use, OHIM has drawn up a template for a standard letter proposed for use in opposition proceedings. The letter includes an annex giving instructions on the way in which the evidence should be structured, as well as suggestions on content and format. The instructions include what type of evidence should be filed, and how it should be organised (eg, with regard to numbering pages and describing the purpose of evidence). In particular, OHIM strongly recommends that a maximum limit of 110 pages in correspondence should be observed. Failure to follow the instructions may lead to evidence not being taken into account. The changes, which will be reflected in the OHIM Manual of Trademark Practice, are designed to produce a better, more efficient system, with benefits for all concerned.
Jeremy Phillips, IP consultant to Olswang LLP, London

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