More than just a healthy snack, an apple is also one of the world's most valuable trade marks today. Trade marks are used to help identify products and running a business without one would be hard to imagine. As brands become more important and more global, so does the protection of trade marks. We talked about it with Cecilia Wikström, a Swedish member of the ALDE group, who wrote a report on modernising EU trade mark rules.
How important are trade marks for branding?
It is extremely important. We live in a globalised world and it’s important to protect trademarks and the trademark owners. It’s actually more lasting than the patent because patents expire, but one can renew trademarks eternally.
A trade mark “packs a punch and you shouldn't do business without one”, according to the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), which is in charge of registering them. Do you agree?
It’s always for the trade mark owner to decide whether to register a trade mark nationally or at a European level. If you want to introduce your trademark only in France, Germany and Belgium, you have the choice to do so. But if you would like to register for European protection, you will have the opportunity to do so too.
It’s not normal that costs would be the same if you ask for your trademark to be protected in one member state or if you ask it for the whole of the EU. There has to be a difference. We need to sort the prices out.
A directive harmonising trade mark legislation in member states has existed for more than 20 years. What will change with the new rules?
Well it’s not a revolution, but rather a modernisation. It will improve cooperation between national trademark offices and the European trademark office in Alicante, Spain. It will help to oil the wheels.
MEPs will debate the new rules on Monday 24 February and vote on them the following day.