Trademark registration offers effective means for ensuring brand protection against potential copycats and infringement attempts. This form of a brand protection leads to a significant positive impact on business performance, retaining the brand’s perceived uniqueness from the perspective of end customers. Thanks to the recently announced grant from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), EU-based small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) can get up to 1,500€ to support their brand protection efforts.
In the European Union, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) account for a vast majority of all companies (99%) and are responsible for over 60% of al employment opportunities. With over 20% of the company valued being derived from the brand itself and the growing number of brand infringement attempts, trademark registration can provide invaluable benefits for any company.
This article highlights all important information about this grant with the goal of fostering brand protection efforts, ensuring that all companies can effectively protect their #1 asset.
EUIPO grant 2022: What can it be used for?
There are 2 principal types of services for which the EUIPO grant can be utilised
1. Get 75% discount on administrative fees for trademark registration: With the administrative fee for trademark registration in the European Union being 850€, the discount comes up to 637,50€. SMEs can of course apply for more than one trademark under this scheme and the discount is also applicable to administrative fees for extra classes defined on trademark applications.
2. Get 90% discount on research and verification services provided by national intellectual property offices. A comprehensive assessment and similarity screening represents the first step in trademark registration process, ensuring that the application can be successfully completed and that the administrative filing fees are not wasted due to any office action or opposition from existing owners of already registered trademarks.
Who can apply?
Three particular requirements need to be met by all applicants for the EUIPO grant. They need to:
- Be located in the member countries of the European Union
- Have less than 250 employees
- Show annual turnover below 50 million €
Application process overview
EUIPO grant applications are processed and examined on a continuous basis and it usually takes around 2 weeks for the applicant to receive a result. Granted that the applicant has met the key eligibility requirements, EUIPO grant is awarded.
Consequently, the applicant can file a trademark application with the EUIPO, paying the administrative fees in full. The application confirmation needs to be forwarded back to the grant commission and the discount is paid back directly to the applicant’s bank account.
Why register a trademark?
There are so many good reasons for trademark registration:
- Protecting the most important asset: It is the brand that communicates the product quality, price, trust and customer service, essentially shaping consumer expectations and driving loyalty. It is therefore not surprising that it is the brand that account for over 20% of companies’ value and is therefore well-worth the protection it deserves.
- Domain conflicts, search engine and social media: Copycat domains, competitive tactics in search engine results and social media profile infringement attempts are becoming increasingly common. Trademark registration offers an effective protection against all of these potential issues, with major vendors (e.g. GoDaddy, Google, Facebook) having already implemented automated conflict resolution services, protecting the rights of the owners of registered trademarks.
- Networking and partnerships: Trademark registration communicates trustworthiness and certainty towards broader business partners as it limits the potential risk of complications in the future. Several business partners (e.g. Amazon) go even further and require trademark registration in order for its clients / partners to benefit from its advanced service offering.
- Avoid rebranding: Trademark registration gives its owner the right to issue “cease and desist” letters to stop commercial activities of brands that infringe upon the good reputation of the given brand. A failure to consider trademark registration from the very start of business creation may ultimately result in the need for rebranding if a similar brand has applied for trademark registration.
Things to consider before applying
Distinctiveness of a brand represents a key requirement for a successful registration of the trademark. In essence, the meaning, or specific text / visual elements need to be unique enough in order to meet this criterion for registration of a trademark. Descriptive or generic names (and graphical elements) are likely to be rejected as such registration would create an unfair advantage for the applicant. An example can be made of the brand name “Best Pizza” which cannot be successfully registered as it fails to meet the criterion of distinctiveness.
The trademark itself also needs to clearly distinguish the company’s products / services from the offering of other organisations. In other words, perceived similarity to already registered trademarks gives the owners of such trademarks the right to successfully oppose new applications. An example can be made of fictitious brand “NikeX” which clearly resembles the well-known brand Nike which is likely to oppose any such application.
Another important thing to consider is the fact that the grant cannot be used to recover the administrative fees for trademark applications prior to date of receiving a grant approval. In other words, the trademark application can only be filed after the EUIPO grant has been approved in order for the applicant to qualify for the discount.
Trademark one-stop-shop Trama
This article was prepared in collaboration with Trama, a global provider of trademark registration and brand protection services.