Brussels, 17 October 2005
The European Commission has decided to lower the fees payable to the Community agency responsible for granting EU-wide trademark rights, OHIM (Office for the Harmonization in the Internal Market, located in Alicante, Spain). This measure - unprecedented in the EU and endorsed by Member States - will make intellectual property protection cheaper for businesses operating in the EU single market, saving them between €37 and €40 million a year.
Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: “I welcome this reduction in fees. It’s great news for businesses, who will now be able to get EU-wide trademark protection at very attractive rates, especially if they do it online. It will also stimulate economic activity in this sector. OHIM is showing that, like the businesses it serves, it is keenly aware of the need to run its affairs efficiently and offer value for money.”
The reductions include:
Even greater reductions (special discount of €150) are available to those who file their applications or renewal requests via the Internet using OHIM’s state-of-the-art e-filing technology.
Why the cut in fees?
OHIM was established by the Council of Ministers in 1994. Since then, more than 200,000 companies from all over the world have come to OHIM in order to get EU-wide legal protection for their trademarks. As a self-financing agency of the EU, OHIM’s budget comes entirely from the fees paid by the businesses that use its services. It does not receive any subsidy or financial support from EU tax-payers and, as a non-profit organisation, its budget must be balanced.
Over the last few years, OHIM, under the leadership of its President Wubbo de Boer, has successfully put in place an ambitious programme aimed at increasing productivity and improving efficiency by simplifying procedures, streamlining working methods, reducing bureaucracy, implementing austere financial management, cooperating with intellectual property (IP) authorities in Member States and introducing the most advanced information technology tools and resources, while at the same time offering a quality of service that has attracted increasing numbers of users.
As a result of this, OHIM, while continuing to invest in improving its services – in particular its online services - and in reducing response times, can share the benefits of its efficiency gains with the entire business community. In particular, small and medium-sized enterprises, for whom the costs of IP protection and enforcement are often a challenging proposition, will certainly welcome this cut in fees.
The fee reduction will enter into force before 1 November 2005. This will allow the companies who filed their Community trade mark applications in 1996 to renew their registration for a further period of ten years already at the reduced cost.
During discussions on the fee reduction questions were raised about the relationship between OHIM and national trademark offices. As a consequence, discussions are still ongoing between OHIM and those offices on the structure of that relationship with regard to the Community trademark system.
For further information, please see the following websites: