Trade marks

An EU trade mark may consist of any signs, in particular words, including personal names, or designs, letters, numerals, colours, the shape of goods or of the packaging of goods, or sounds, provided that such signs are capable of: distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings; and being represented on the Register of European Union trade marks (‘the Register’), in a manner which enables the competent authorities and the public to determine the clear and precise subject matter of the protection afforded to its proprietor.
Art. 4 EU Law relating to Trade Marks

Any sign that is apt to distinguish the product or service for which it is used from the product or service of a competitor can serve as a trade mark. Product names, logos and other signs are regarded as trade marks if they are registered by a Patent Office, if they are seriously used in the market or if they convey a geographical indication. The trade mark may be a word, a sequence of words, a two or three dimensional sign, single-colour or multi-colour sign or an audio sequence. A trade mark may also contain figurative elements.

Applicant of a trade mark may be a natural person or a legal person. Applicant can also be an association of enterprises that registers a collective trade mark for its members.

For a trade mark application the identity of the applicant is to be provided as well as a representation of the sign and a list of goods and services for which the trade mark is to be used.

The trade mark is registered if it is distinctive but not descriptive relating to the goods and services to be used for.

Once the Patent Office has decided to register the trademark the application may still be refused in an opposition procedure on the grounds of the existence of an earlier trade mark right. A registered trade mark may be revoked if, within a period of five years, it has not been put to genuine use.

A German and a EU trade mark is registered for a period of 10 years from the date of filing. The registration may be renewed every 10 years as often as necessary. An international trade mark is registered for a period of 20 years.

The German trade mark is valid in the Federal Republic of Germany.

The European trade mark is valid in the European Union.

The international trade mark is valid in the member states of the Madrid Agreement and/or member states of the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement which have been selected upon filing of the application or at a later time.

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• Berg & Partner lawyers notaries
• Dipl.-Chem. Dr. Herrguth Patent attorney