Preamble

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular the first paragraph of Article 118 thereof,
Having regard to the proposal from the European Commission,
After transmission of the draft legislative act to the national parliaments,
Acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure [1],

 

Whereas:


(1) Council Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 [2] has been substantially amended several times [3]. In the interests of clarity and rationality, that Regulation should be codified.


(2) Council Regulation (EC) No 40/94 [4], which was codified in 2009 as Regulation (EC) No 207/2009, created a system of trade mark protection specific to the Union which provided for the protection of trade marks at the level of the Union, in parallel to the protection of trade marks available at the level of the Member States in accordance with the national trade mark systems, harmonised by Council Directive 89/104/EEC [5], which was codified as Directive 2008/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council [6].

 

(3) It is desirable to promote throughout the Union a harmonious development of economic activities and a continuous and balanced expansion by completing an internal market which functions properly and offers conditions which are similar to those obtaining in a national market. In order to establish a market of this kind and make it increasingly a single market, not only should barriers to free movement of goods and services be removed and arrangements be instituted which ensure that competition is not distorted, but, in addition, legal conditions should be laid down which enable undertakings to adapt their activities to the scale of the Union, whether in manufacturing and distributing goods or in providing services. For those purposes, trade marks enabling the products and services of undertakings to be distinguished by identical means throughout the entire Union, regardless of frontiers, should feature amongst the legal instruments which undertakings have at their disposal.

 

(4) For the purpose of pursuing the Union's said objectives it would appear necessary to provide for Union arrangements for trade marks whereby undertakings can by means of one procedural system obtain EU trade marks to which uniform protection is given and which produce their effects throughout the entire area of the Union. The principle of the unitary character of the EU trade mark thus stated should apply unless otherwise provided for in this Regulation.

 

(5) The barrier of territoriality of the rights conferred on proprietors of trade marks by the laws of the Member States cannot be removed by approximation of laws. In order to open up unrestricted economic activity in the whole of the internal market for the benefit of undertakings, it should be possible to register trade marks which are governed by a uniform Union law directly applicable in all Member States.

 

(6) The experience acquired since the establishment of the Community trade mark system has shown that undertakings from within the Union and from third countries have accepted the system which has become a successful and viable complement and alternative to the protection of trade marks at the level of the Member States.

 

(7) The Union law relating to trade marks nevertheless does not replace the laws of the Member States on trade marks. It would not in fact appear to be justified to require undertakings to apply for registration of their trade marks as EU trade marks.

 

(8) National trade marks continue to be necessary for those undertakings which do not want protection of their trade marks at Union level, or which are unable to obtain Union-wide protection while national protection does not face any obstacles. It should be left to each person seeking trade mark protection to decide whether the protection is sought only as a national trade mark in one or more Member States, or only as an EU trade mark, or both.

 

(9) The rights in an EU trade mark should not be obtained otherwise than by registration, and registration should be refused in particular if the trade mark is not distinctive, if it is unlawful or if it conflicts with earlier rights.

 

(10) A sign should be permitted to be represented in any appropriate form using generally available technology, and thus not necessarily by graphic means, as long as the representation is clear, precise, self-contained, easily accessible, intelligible, durable and objective.

 

(11) The protection afforded by an EU trade mark, the function of which is in particular to guarantee the trade mark as an indication of origin, should be absolute in the case of identity between the mark and the sign and the goods or services. The protection should apply also in cases of similarity between the mark and the sign and the goods or services. An interpretation should be given for the concept of similarity in relation to the likelihood of confusion. The likelihood of confusion, the appreciation of which depends on numerous elements and, in particular, on the recognition of the trade mark on the market, the association which can be made with the used or registered sign, the degree of similarity between the trade mark and the sign and between the goods or services identified, should constitute the specific condition for such protection.

 

(12) In order to ensure legal certainty and full consistency with the principle of priority, under which a registered earlier trade mark takes precedence over later registered trade marks, it is necessary to provide that the enforcement of rights conferred by an EU trade mark should be without prejudice to the rights of proprietors acquired prior to the filing or priority date of the EU trade mark. This is in conformity with Article 16(1) of the Agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights of 15 April 1994.

 

(13) Confusion as to the commercial source from which the goods or services emanate may occur when a company uses the same or a similar sign as a trade name in such a way that a link is established between the company bearing the name and the goods or services coming from that company. Infringement of an EU trade mark should therefore also comprise the use of the sign as a trade name or similar designation as long as the use is made for the purposes of distinguishing goods or services.

 

(14) In order to ensure legal certainty and full consistency with specific Union legislation, it is appropriate to provide that the proprietor of an EU trade mark should be entitled to prohibit a third party from using a sign in comparative advertising where such comparative advertising is contrary to Directive 2006/114/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council [7].

 

(15) In order to ensure trade mark protection and combat counterfeiting effectively, and in line with international obligations of the Union under the framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), in particular Article V of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) on freedom of transit and, as regards generic medicines, the ‘Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and public health’ adopted by the Doha WTO Ministerial Conference on 14 November 2001, the proprietor of an EU trade mark should be entitled to prevent third parties from bringing goods, in the course of trade, into the Union without being released for free circulation there, where such goods come from third countries and bear without authorisation a trade mark which is identical or essentially identical with the EU trade mark registered in respect of such goods.

 

(16) To this effect, it should be permissible for EU trade mark proprietors to prevent the entry of infringing goods and their placement in all customs situations, including transit, transhipment, warehousing, free zones, temporary storage, inward processing or temporary admission, also when such goods are not intended to be placed on the market of the Union. In performing customs controls, the customs authorities should make use of the powers and procedures laid down in Regulation (EU) No 608/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council [8], also at the request of the right holders. In particular, the customs authorities should carry out the relevant controls on the basis of risk analysis criteria.

 

(17) In order to reconcile the need to ensure the effective enforcement of trade mark rights with the necessity to avoid hampering the free flow of trade in legitimate goods, the entitlement of the proprietor of the EU trade mark should lapse where, during the subsequent proceedings initiated before the European Union trade mark court (‘EU trade mark court’) competent to take a substantive decision on whether the EU trade mark has been infringed, the declarant or the holder of the goods is able to prove that the proprietor of the EU trade mark is not entitled to prohibit the placing of the goods on the market in the country of final destination.

 

(18) Article 28 of Regulation (EU) No 608/2013 provides that a right holder is to be liable for damages towards the holder of the goods where, inter alia, the goods in question are subsequently found not to infringe an intellectual property right.

 

(19) Appropriate measures should be taken with a view to ensuring the smooth transit of generic medicines. With respect to international non-proprietary names (INN) as globally recognised generic names for active substances in pharmaceutical preparations, it is vital to take due account of the existing limitations on the effect of EU trade mark rights. Consequently, the proprietor of an EU trade mark should not have the right to prevent a third party from bringing goods into the Union without being released for free circulation there, based upon similarities between the INN for the active ingredient in the medicines and the trade mark.

 

(20) In order to enable proprietors of EU trade marks to combat counterfeiting effectively, they should be entitled to prohibit the affixing of an infringing mark to goods and preparatory acts carried out prior to the affixing.

 

(21) The exclusive rights conferred by an EU trade mark should not entitle the proprietor to prohibit the use of signs or indications by third parties which are used fairly and thus in accordance with honest practices in industrial and commercial matters. In order to ensure equal conditions for trade names and EU trade marks in the event of conflicts, given that trade names are regularly granted unrestricted protection against later trade marks, such use should be only considered to include the use of the personal name of the third party. It should further permit the use of descriptive or non-distinctive signs or indications in general. Furthermore, the proprietor should not be entitled to prevent the fair and honest use of the EU trade mark for the purpose of identifying or referring to the goods or services as those of the proprietor. Use of a trade mark by third parties to draw the consumer's attention to the resale of genuine goods that were originally sold by or with the consent of the proprietor of the EU trade mark in the Union should be considered as being fair as long as it is at the same time in accordance with honest practices in industrial and commercial matters. Use of a trade mark by third parties for the purpose of artistic expression should be considered as being fair as long as it is at the same time in accordance with honest practices in industrial and commercial matters. Furthermore, this Regulation should be applied in a way that ensures full respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, and in particular the freedom of expression.

 

(22) It follows from the principle of free movement of goods that it is essential that the proprietor of an EU trade mark not be entitled to prohibit its use by a third party in relation to goods which have been put into circulation in the European Economic Area, under the trade mark, by him or with his consent, save where there exist legitimate reasons for the proprietor to oppose further commercialisation of the goods.

 

(23) In order to ensure legal certainty and safeguard legitimately acquired trade mark rights, it is appropriate and necessary to lay down, without prejudice to the principle that the later trade mark cannot be enforced against the earlier trade mark, that proprietors of EU trade marks should not be entitled to oppose the use of a later trade mark if the later trade mark was acquired at a time when the earlier trade mark could not be enforced against the later trade mark.

 

(24) There is no justification for protecting EU trade marks or, as against them, any trade mark which has been registered before them, except where the trade marks are actually used.

 

(25) For reasons of equity and legal certainty, the use of an EU trade mark in a form that differs in elements which do not alter the distinctive character of that mark in the form in which it is registered should be sufficient to preserve the rights conferred regardless of whether the trade mark in the form as used is also registered.

 

(26) An EU trade mark is to be regarded as an object of property which exists separately from the undertakings whose goods or services are designated by it. Accordingly, it should be capable of being transferred, of being charged as security in favour of a third party and of being the subject matter of licences.

 

(27) Administrative measures are necessary at Union level for implementing in relation to every trade mark the trade mark law laid down by this Regulation. It is therefore essential, while retaining the Union's existing institutional structure and balance of powers, to provide for a European Union Intellectual Property Office (‘the Office’) which is independent in relation to technical matters and has legal, administrative and financial autonomy. To this end it is necessary and appropriate that the Office should be a body of the Union having legal personality and exercising the powers which are conferred on it by this Regulation, and that it should operate within the framework of Union law without detracting from the competences exercised by the Union institutions.

 

(28) EU trade mark protection is granted in relation to specific goods or services whose nature and number determine the extent of protection afforded to the trade mark proprietor. It is therefore essential to lay down rules for the designation and classification of goods and services in this Regulation and to ensure legal certainty and sound administration by requiring that the goods and services for which trade mark protection is sought are identified by the applicant with sufficient clarity and precision to enable the competent authorities and economic operators, on the basis of the application alone, to determine the extent of the protection applied for. The use of general terms should be interpreted as only including all goods and services clearly covered by the literal meaning of the term. Proprietors of EU trade marks, which because of the practice of the Office prior to 22 June 2012 were registered in respect of the entire heading of a class of the system of classification established by the Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks of 15 June 1957, should be given the possibility to adapt their lists of goods and services in order to ensure that the content of the Register meets the requisite standard of clarity and precision in accordance with the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

(29) In order to avoid unnecessary delays in registering an EU trade mark, it is appropriate to lay down a regime of optional EU and national trade mark searches that should be flexible in terms of user needs and preferences. The optional EU and national trade mark searches should be complemented by the making available of all-encompassing, fast and powerful search engines for the use of the public free of charge within the context of cooperation between the Office and the central industrial property offices of the Member States, including the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property.

 

(30) It is necessary to ensure that parties who are affected by decisions made by the Office are protected by the law in a manner which is suited to the special character of trade mark law. To that end, provision should be made for an appeal to lie from decisions of the various decision-making instances of the Office. A Board of Appeal of the Office should decide on the appeal. Decisions of the Boards of Appeal should, in turn, be amenable to actions before the General Court, which has jurisdiction to annul or to alter the contested decision.

 

(31) In order to ensure the protection of EU trade marks the Member States should designate, having regard to their own national system, as limited a number as possible of national courts of first and second instance having jurisdiction in matters of infringement and validity of EU trade marks.

 

(32) It is essential that decisions regarding the validity and infringement of EU trade marks have effect and cover the entire area of the Union, as this is the only way of preventing inconsistent decisions on the part of the courts and the Office and of ensuring that the unitary character of EU trade marks is not undermined. The provisions of Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council [9] should apply to all actions at law relating to EU trade marks, save where this Regulation derogates from those rules.

 

(33) Contradictory judgments should be avoided in actions which involve the same acts and the same parties and which are brought on the basis of an EU trade mark and parallel national trade marks. For this purpose, when the actions are brought in the same Member State, the way in which this is to be achieved is a matter for national procedural rules, which are not prejudiced by this Regulation, whilst when the actions are brought in different Member States, provisions modelled on the rules on lis pendens and related actions of Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 appear appropriate.

 

(34) With the aim of promoting convergence of practices and of developing common tools, it is necessary to establish an appropriate framework for cooperation between the Office and the industrial property offices of the Member States, including the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property, defining key areas of cooperation and enabling the Office to coordinate relevant common projects of interest to the Union and the Member States and to finance, up to a maximum amount, those projects. Those cooperation activities should be beneficial for undertakings using trade mark systems in Europe. For users of the Union regime laid down in this Regulation, the projects, particularly the databases for search and consultation purposes, should provide additional, inclusive, efficient tools that are free of charge to comply with the specific requirements arising from the unitary character of the EU trade mark.

 

(35) It is desirable to facilitate friendly, expeditious and efficient dispute resolution by entrusting the Office with the establishment of a mediation centre the services of which could be used by any person with the aim of achieving a friendly settlement of disputes relating to EU trade marks and Community designs by mutual agreement.

 

(36) The setting up of the EU trade mark system has resulted in increased financial burdens for the central industrial property offices and other authorities of the Member States. The additional costs are related to the handling of a higher number of opposition and invalidity proceedings involving EU trade marks or brought by proprietors of such trade marks; to the awareness-raising activities linked to the EU trade mark system; as well as to activities intended to ensure the enforcement of EU trade mark rights. It is, therefore, appropriate to ensure that the Office offset part of the costs incurred by Member States for the role they play in ensuring the smooth functioning of the EU trade mark system. The payment of such offsetting should be subject to the submission, by Member States, of relevant statistical data. The offsetting of costs should not be of such an extent that it would cause a budgetary deficit for the Office.

 

(37) In order to guarantee the full autonomy and independence of the Office, it is considered necessary to grant it an autonomous budget whose revenue comes principally from fees paid by the users of the system. However, the Union budgetary procedure remains applicable as far as any subsidies chargeable to the general budget of the Union are concerned. Moreover, the auditing of accounts should be undertaken by the Court of Auditors.

 

(38) In the interest of sound financial management, the accumulation by the Office of significant budgetary surpluses should be avoided. This should be without prejudice to the Office maintaining a financial reserve covering one year of its operational expenditure to ensure the continuity of its operations and the performance of its tasks. That reserve should only be used to ensure the continuity of the tasks of the Office as specified in this Regulation.

 

(39) Given the essential importance of the amounts of fees payable to the Office for the functioning of the EU trade mark system and its complementary relationship as regards national trade mark systems, it is necessary to set those fee amounts directly in this Regulation in the form of an annex. The amounts of the fees should be fixed at a level which ensures that: first, the revenue they produce is in principle sufficient for the budget of the Office to be balanced; second, there is coexistence and complementarity between the EU trade mark and the national trade mark systems, also taking into account the size of the market covered by the EU trade mark and the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises; and third, the rights of proprietors of an EU trade mark are enforced efficiently in the Member States.

 

(40) In order to ensure an effective, efficient and expeditious examination and registration of EU trade mark applications by the Office using procedures which are transparent, thorough, fair and equitable, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) should be delegated to the Commission in respect of specifying the details on the procedures for filing and examining an opposition and on the procedures governing the amendment of the application.

 

(41) In order to ensure that an EU trade mark can be revoked or declared invalid in an effective and efficient way by means of transparent, thorough, fair and equitable procedures, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 TFEU should be delegated to the Commission in respect of specifying the procedures for revocation and declaration of invalidity.

 

(42) In order to allow for an effective, efficient and complete review of decisions of the Office by the Boards of Appeal by means of a transparent, thorough, fair and equitable procedure which takes into account the principles laid down in this Regulation, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 TFEU should be delegated to the Commission in respect of specifying the formal content of the notice of appeal, the procedure for the filing and examination of an appeal, the formal content and form of the Board of Appeal's decisions, and the reimbursement of the appeal fees.

 

(43) In order to ensure a smooth, effective and efficient operation of the EU trade mark system, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 TFEU should be delegated to the Commission in respect of specifying the requirements as to the details on oral proceedings and the detailed arrangements for taking of evidence, the detailed arrangements for notification, the means of communication and the forms to be used by the parties to proceedings, the rules governing the calculation and duration of time limits, the procedures for the revocation of a decision or for cancellation of an entry in the Register, the detailed arrangements for the resumption of proceedings, and the details on representation before the Office.

 

(44) In order to ensure an effective and efficient organisation of the Boards of Appeal, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 TFEU should be delegated to the Commission in respect of specifying the details on the organisation of the Boards of Appeal.

 

(45) In order to ensure the effective and efficient registration of international trade marks in a manner that is fully consistent with the rules of the Protocol relating to the Madrid Agreement concerning the international registration of marks, adopted at Madrid on 27 June 1989 (‘Madrid Protocol’), the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 TFEU should be delegated to the Commission in respect of specifying the details on the procedures concerning the filing and examination of an opposition, including the necessary communications to be made to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), and the details of the procedure concerning international registrations based on a basic application or basic registration relating to a collective mark, certification mark or guarantee mark.

 

(46) It is of particular importance that the Commission carry out appropriate consultations during its preparatory work, including at expert level, and that those consultations be conducted in accordance with the principles laid down in the Interinstitutional Agreement of 13 April 2016 on Better Law-Making [10]. In particular, to ensure equal participation in the preparation of delegated acts, the European Parliament and the Council receive all documents at the same time as Member States' experts, and their experts systematically have access to meetings of Commission expert groups dealing with the preparation of delegated acts.

 

(47) In order to ensure uniform conditions for the implementation of this Regulation, implementing powers should be conferred on the Commission in respect of specifying the details concerning applications, requests, certificates, claims, regulations, notifications and any other document under the relevant procedural requirements established by this Regulation, as well as in respect of maximum rates for costs essential to the proceedings and actually incurred, details concerning publications in the European Union Trade Marks Bulletin and the Official Journal of the Office, the detailed arrangements for exchange of information between the Office and national authorities, detailed arrangements concerning translations of supporting documents in written proceedings, exact types of decisions to be taken by a single member of the opposition or cancellation divisions, details of the notification obligation pursuant to the Madrid Protocol, and detailed requirements regarding the request for territorial extension subsequent to international registration. Those powers should be exercised in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council [11]

 

(48) Since the objectives of this Regulation cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States but can rather, by reason of its scale and effects, be better achieved at Union level, the Union may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union. In accordance with the principle of proportionality as set out in that Article, this Regulation does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve those objectives,


HAVE ADOPTED THIS REGULATION:

 

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[1] Position of the European Parliament of 27 April 2017 (not yet published in the Official Journal) and decision of the Council of 22 May 2017.
[2] Council Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 of 26 February 2009 on the European Union trade mark (OJ L 78, 24.3.2009, p. 1).
[3] See Annex II.
[4] Council Regulation (EC) No 40/94 of 20 December 1993 on the Community trade mark (OJ L 11, 14.1.1994, p. 1).
[5] First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks (OJ L 40, 11.2.1989, p. 1).
[6] Directive 2008/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2008 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks (OJ L 299, 8.11.2008, p. 25).
[7] Directive 2006/114/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 concerning misleading and comparative advertising (OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 21).
[8] Regulation (EU) No 608/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 June 2013 concerning customs enforcement of intellectual property rights and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1383/2003 (OJ L 181, 29.6.2013, p. 15).
[9] Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (OJ L 351, 20.12.2012, p. 1).
[10] OJ L 123, 12.5.2016, p. 1.
[11] Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by the Member States of the Commission's exercise of implementing powers (OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13).