If you own a registered trademark in the U.S., you understand the importance of the legal protections provided to you and your brand. These protections, however, will only apply to legal disputes within the United States. In order to gain trademark protections internationally, you must register your trademark in the countries and regions where you currently do business and those where you may do business in the future. Because of its easy application process and broad coverage, an EU trademark may be something you want to consider. Here are 4 reasons to register your trademark with the European Union.
Why You Should Consider a Trademark Registration in the European Union
- It’s easy to register a trademark in the EU.
- The EU grants trademark rights on a first-to-file basis.
- The EU offers a large, diverse customer base.
- A trademark is a valuable asset.
It’s Easy to Register
The European Union offers one of the easiest processes to register a trademark. Instead of registering your trademark with each country individually, the EU allows you to file a single application in your home language to the European Union Intellectual Property Office, or EUIPO. Unlike a U.S. registration, there is no requirement to document use, either. If your trademark is approved, you will automatically gain legal protections in all 28 of its member countries.
The trademark registration process is quick, too. If the goods and services associated with your mark appear on the EUIPO’s harmonized database of preselected classes, you may be eligible to complete a Fast Track application, which typically reduces the registration time by 50 percent. However, even if you aren’t eligible for the Fast Track application, the process is fairly simple, and your mark can still be registered, even if a similar mark exists, so long as the owner of the existing mark does not oppose your registration.
EU Recognizes the First-to-File
Unlike the United States, which is a first-to-use country, the EU grants trademark rights on a first-to-file basis. This means that whoever files the trademark application first, whether they currently use the mark or not, are typically granted trademark protections. While this may benefit new businesses who wish to file a trademark they’ve created but have not yet put into use, it may also benefit those filing bad faith registrations. These occur when a person with ill intent knowingly registers a trademark that is in use, either locally or internationally, but not yet registered. Bad faith registrants do this with the goal to profit from others’ marks, either by selling counterfeit products or by ransoming the trademark to its rightful owner at a later date.
If any countries within the European Union are part of your international trademark plan, either now or in the future, you may want to consider an EU trademark registration as soon as possible. There are laws to deter bad faith registrations, and you may have a legal right to fight such a registration if you find one, but the process is long and costly. The best way to keep a bad faith registrant from gaining rights to your mark is simply being the first to register the mark with the EUIPO.