After several years of negotiation, a provisional agreement concerning a number of changes to European Community trademark practice was reached by the European Commission, Parliament, and Council in April 2015.
One key change is a proposal to do away with the current application and renewal fee structure. Currently, the application filing fee includes three trademark classes, with no reduction available if an applicant’s goods or services only fall into one class (or two). Further, when the 10-year renewal deadline arrives, the cost of renewal cannot be reduced by deleting classes that are no longer of interest. Thus, not only are the fees significantly higher than in many other countries/regions, but applicants often file for classes that they don’t really need or want, just to feel like they have gotten their money’s worth.
If the proposed change is adopted, new reduced fees will be charged per class, both for newly-filed applications, and at the time of renewal. Not only will this reduce the overall expense in applying for and maintaining a trademark, but it should encourage applicants to be more selective in deciding which classes to apply for, which in turn will reduce the number of marks registered in classes for which they will never be used.
The agreement must be approved by the full European Parliament, and a vote may occur in September 2015. The changes, if approved without delay, are expected to become effective sometime in mid-2016. Stay tuned for updates.