European trademark & German trademark
Registration and common mistakes
When starting a business in Europe many entrepreneurs come across the topic of trademarks and wonder if they need to register one and how to do it. In this article we are going to tell you what a trademark is, in what cases you might require it, how to apply for a German trademark or a European trademark, what you should pay attention to in order to avoid being refused and other useful information.
What is a trademark?
A trademark is intended to exclusively identify a product or service as belonging to a specific company. Trademarks are legally registered to represent a company, service or product and, like patents, belong to the company’s intellectual property. Protected as a trademark can be: words, phrases, letters, numbers, symbols, images, as well as colors, holograms, multimedia signs and sounds.
If the business has a distinctive name, logo etc. and/or offers unique products or services, the owner may want to consider registering a trademark. It is not obligatory however it would protect you should anyone else try using the same name or logo. A trademark is a way to legally protect your business. Once the trademark is registered, its owner gets the exclusive right to use the trademark for the protected goods and services.
If you work in Germany or within the EU, you may choose to register either a German trademark (national) or a European trademark. A national trademark provides protection within Germany while European trademark is valid for the whole European Union. Both trademarks are valid for 10 years and can be renewed for another 10 years an unlimited number of times. Please note that renewal fees apply for each renewal.
Watch our video on European and German trademark registration:
The application fee for the trademark depends on the number of classes indicated. There are 45 classes total. The basic application fee for a German trademark for up to three classes is 300 euro for paper-based filing and 290 euro for online or electronic filing. Adding additional classes to the application costs 100 euro per class. The application fee for a European trademark is 850 or 900 euro for one or two classes respectively if made online. Paper-based filing costs 1000 euro. If you choose to apply for more than two classes, each additional class would cost 150 euro.
Application for a German trademark
There are three ways to apply for national German trademark registration:
- Online application on the website of the German Patent and Trademark Office: www.dpma.de. Please note that the application process is available only in German.
- Electronic application using the special software provided by the German Patent and Trademark Office. For this type of application a qualified signature card (electronic signature) is required.
- Paper-based application for German trademark registration. In this case you need to fill out several application forms that have to be submitted by post, fax or in person. You can’t send the application by email. Please note that some of the documents are available in German language only.
Application for a European trademark
The options of application for European trademark registration are similar to those of a national trademark:
- Online application can be made on the European Union Intellectual Property Office: www.euipo.europa.eu.
- Paper-based application that is to be send by post or courier service. No application for European trademark registration by email is accepted.
It is very important to file the application for a German or European trademark correctly and meet all the formal requirements. This way the application can be processed faster.
If the applicant doesn’t have a residence or an official place of business in the European Economic Area, they must appoint a representative in the European Economic Area who will be in charge of the application. As a rule, an attorney or a lawyer that is qualified in the EEA, has their place of business in the EEA and is authorized to represent the client in trademark matters can act as a representative.
Before you file the application for a European or German trademark it is very important to do a proper trademark search. There are over 11 million trademarks already registered in the European Union, so you need to make sure that your desired trademark is available and no similar trademarks are already registered that it could be confused with. The authorities don’t check during the processing if similar or identical trademarks already exist, so this is fully your task if you want to avoid owners of such trademarks taking legal action against you.
Reasons for refusal for German or European trademark registration
There are certain reasons why your application a German or European trademark may be rejected. Since each situation is different there might be individual reasons for refusal however there are also general reasons that one should be aware of in order to avoid refusal. Here are some examples:
- lack of distinctiveness
- only general descriptive terms
- danger of deceiving or misleading the public
- an emblem of state included in the trademark
- violation of public policies or accepted principles of morality
So, as you can see, a trademark should be as distinctive, specific and precise as possible and can’t violate any laws. You need to have a very clear understanding of what a trademark can and cannot include. There are extensive guidelines on this matter on the internet on both European and German trademarks, however often only a professional working in this field can provide solid consultation and assistance on this matter as well as the process of application for German or European trademark registration as a whole. If you’d like to avoid refusal and make sure your application is done correctly, you should consider hiring a professional to take care of European or German trademark registration for you. This is a good way to minimize risks and successfully achieve your goal.
Nexus-Europe GmbH is happy to assist foreign entrepreneurs with starting and developing their own successful business in Germany and moving to Germany through business immigration or the EU Blue Card.
This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is intended for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Each situation is unique and professional advice should always be obtained before taking or refraining from any action.