Article 152

1. The Office and the central industrial property offices of the Member States and the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property shall cooperate with each other to promote convergence of practices and tools in the field of trade marks and designs.
Without prejudice to paragraph 3, this cooperation shall in particular cover the following areas of activity:
(a) the development of common examination standards;
(b) the creation of common or connected databases and portals for Union-wide consultation, search and classification purposes;
(c) the continuous provision and exchange of data and information, including for the purposes of feeding of the databases and portals referred to in point (b);
(d) the establishment of common standards and practices, with a view to ensuring interoperability between procedures and systems throughout the Union and enhancing their consistency, efficiency and effectiveness;
(e) the sharing of information on industrial property rights and procedures, including mutual support to helpdesks and information centres;
(f) the exchange of technical expertise and assistance in relation to the areas referred to in points (a) to (e).


2. On the basis of a proposal by the Executive Director, the Management Board shall define and coordinate projects of interest to the Union and the Member States with regard to the areas referred to in paragraphs 1 and 6, and shall invite the central industrial property offices of the Member States and the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property to participate in those projects.
The project definition shall contain the specific obligations and responsibilities of each participating industrial property office of the Member States, the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property and the Office. The Office shall consult with user representatives in particular in the phases of definition of the projects and evaluation of their results.


3. The central industrial property offices of the Member States and the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property may opt out of, restrict or temporarily suspend their cooperation in the projects referred to in the first subparagraph of paragraph 2.
When making use of the possibilities provided for in the first subparagraph, the central industrial property offices of the Member States and the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property shall provide the Office with a written statement explaining the reasons for their decision.


4. Once having committed to participate in certain projects, the central industrial property offices of the Member States and the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property shall, without prejudice to paragraph 3, participate effectively in the projects referred to in paragraph 2 with a view to ensuring that they are developed, function, are interoperable and kept up to date.


5. The Office shall provide financial support to the projects referred to in paragraph 2 to the extent that is necessary in order to ensure, for the purposes of paragraph 4, the effective participation of the central industrial property offices of the Member States and the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property in those projects. That financial support may take the form of grants and in-kind contributions. The total amount of funding shall not exceed 15 % of the yearly revenue of the Office. The beneficiaries of grants shall be the central industrial property offices of the Member States and the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property. Grants may be awarded without calls for proposals in accordance with the financial rules applicable to the Office and with the principles of grant procedures contained in Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council (23) and in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1268/2012 (24).

 

6. The Office and the relevant competent authorities of the Member States shall cooperate with each other on a voluntary basis to promote the raising of awareness concerning the trade mark system and the fight against counterfeiting. Such cooperation shall include projects aiming, in particular, at the implementation of established standards and practices as well as at organising education and training activities. The financial support for those projects shall be part of the total amount of funding referred to in paragraph 5. Paragraphs 2 to 5 shall apply mutatis mutandis.

 

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(23)  Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 (OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1).
(24)  Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1268/2012 of 29 October 2012 on the rules of application of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union (OJ L 362, 31.12.2012, p. 1).