Legal affairs MEPs endorsed plans to modernise trade mark protection rules to foster innovation and economic growth in the EU. Revised rules aim to make trade mark registration quicker, cheaper and more efficient for businesses. MEPs suggest improving means to combat counterfeiting more effectively while at the same time ensuring smooth flow of legitimate trade.

“With over 20 million enterprises in the EU, it is crucial that the new legislation will be simple and flexible enough to provide business owners and entrepreneurs the protection that meets their needs. That means shorter turnaround times, updated, modern and clear rules that take new technical innovations into account, and flexible solutions facilitating for companies to expand and develop their business”, said the lead MEP Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE).


Fight against counterfeit products


“My ambition has been to adapt the rules allowing better abilities for customs to stop counterfeit goods without putting burdens on legitimate trade, especially with regards to the free transit of generic medicines, also in the future”, Wikström added.


While strengthening the protection against counterfeiting, MEPs amended the rules to ensure that no obstacles are created for legitimate international trade. They propose that if the owner of a trade mark is not able to prove that trade mark is registered in the destination country, those rules would not apply.


More efficient protection


Legal Affairs MEPs backed the proposal to modernise EU rules for trade marks and to strengthen the dual-level system of national and European level community trade marks.


They voted in favour of a proposal to make trade mark registration cheaper by allowing trade mark to be registered for only one product class, instead of three classes. In addition, the proposal would also harmonise national and EU application and registration procedures and the rights guaranteed by a trade mark. To increase flexibility, the draft law would also modernize the definition of trade mark to enable for example a sound to be registered by removing the requirement of “graphic representability”.


“European Union Intellectual Property Agency”


MEPs propose new name “European Union Intellectual Property Agency” to the EU agency responsible for trade marks (Office of Harmonisation for the Internal Markets, OHIM). They also suggest Community trade mark to be called European Union Trade Mark.


The draft law also introduces several improvements to the structure and governance of the agency as well as proposals to strengthen cooperation between national trade mark registration offices and the EU agency.


Next steps


Legal Affairs Committee approved the legislative resolutions unanimously and gave the rapporteur a mandate to start negotiations with the Council with a view to agreeing on a common text.


Committee on Legal Affairs

Procedure: co-decision, 1st reading

In the Chair: Klaus-Heiner Lehne (EPP, DE)

Rapporteur: Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE)

 


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