For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Seniority: an update and database harmonisation

Several responses have been received to this Kat's request for assistance (here) in relation to the differences between EU national marks and a Community trade mark, mainly relating to the UK.  The majority relate to geographic differences, which tend to have been well covered in various blogs, including Daniel Smart's, The Smart Trade Mark Blog here. 


Am I really that different?
Good points have also been raised about specifications, the mechanisms for conversion back to a national mark and the recordal of third party interests.  Much less is known about non-UK marks. 

Is a UK registration really a snowy dove trooping with crows?  Or do other EU marks have similar escutcheons hidden in the depths of national legislation and custom?  If you think you know or know someone who might, please get in touch!

Database harmonisation

On a related note, this Kat has also had the pleasure of speaking with Jacqueline Winkelmolen, Project Manager at OHIM who was tasked with the 'Creation and harmonization of seniority databases' back in 2011.  The project seeks to address the issue that a user may conduct a search of a national trade mark database, see that the status of a mark is indicated as "abandoned", "not renewed" or "expired" and, because there is no indication that seniority has been claimed, believe it is ok to use or file the mark in that country. 

OHIM's efforts therefore focused on working with the national offices to harmonise the vocabulary used and ensure that a 'flag' would indicate that seniority has been claimed.  Ideally, the user can then click on the link and see the seniority right embodied within the CTM.  OHIM's flashy new website which is due in the next few months will link directly from a CTM to the national record from which seniority has been claimed.

No, not that type of flag.
As the project nears its completion in 2012, it is pleasing to know that seven national offices have already adopted the new system.  Katpats therefore to the trade mark offices of Benelux, Bulgaria,
Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Portugal and Slovenia (click the links and test to your heart's content!). 

There is also an 'intent to implement' from Estonia, France, Greece, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom, so these databases will hopefully be updated soon.  Although the OHIM project will officially close, interest has also been shown by Latvia, Malta and Poland, making a total of 18 participating national offices.  TMView may also show the same data, though this may take a little longer.

The new system will certainly make matters more straightforward and reduce the likelihood of stumbling into an Article 34 abyss.  This Kat hopes that the offices in Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Spain will see the benefit to be gained by all users of the system and also look to harmonise their databases.

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