A trademark can be a word, name, symbol, logo or combination thereof or any other sign adopted and used by a manufacturer or company to identify its products and to distinct them from products or services of others. The primary function of a trademark is to identify the origin of the goods or services. A trademark is also a guarantee for consistency of quality. It warrants the customer that all goods or services under the same trademark are of the same quality as the consumer may expect after his prior experience. In most countries a trademark originates from a trademark application and remains in force by continued trademark use. Apart from registration, your trademark is also to be protected by correct and consequent use; if a trademark is used incorrectly, it can become a generic name and be lost as a trademark. Examples of such loss are aspirin en nylon. Correctly used trademarks may be maintained indefinitely.

In the trademark application the goods or services for which the trademark is to be used are to be indicated, so as to provide the applicant with a monopoly on the [continued] use of the trademark for the described goods or services.

The owner of a valid trademark is in a position to prevent others to make economic use of the trademark, or a similar trademark, in those countries the trademark is protected for.

Benelux Countries

Benelux trademark rights are generally acquired by first application and its subsequent registration. Prior thereto a trademark search can be conducted in order to investigate its registrability. A Benelux trademark registration expires 10 years after its filing date and it remains always renewable for same periods. In order for a trademark to be accepted for registration it should be distinctive; its distinctiveness is verified by the Benelux Trademark Authority.  All new filed trademarks are published, so as to enable owners of prior trademark rights to oppose the application.  If no opposition is filed and it is accepted for registration, trademark protection within the Benelux territory is obtained for a period of 10 years, always renewable for same periods upon payment.

European Union

A Community trademark offers protection for the entire market of the European Union and is momentarily covering 27 countries. A Community trademark may consist of any sign capable of being represented graphically, amongst others words, designs, letters, shape of goods or of their packaging. The sign has to be capable to distinguish goods or services.
The duration of a trademark registration is 10 years. The registration is indefinitely renewable for a same period of time. After acceptance of the application,  publication of the trademark in the Community Trademarks Bulletin will follow. Within a period of 3 months after publication, owners of earlier trademarks (Community trademarks and/or national registrations or applications or well known trademarks!) may give notice of opposition.

International Trademark Protection

A so-called International trademark registration can be based only upon prior application/ registration in Benelux or in any of the other member countries to the relevant International Treaty. This type of international registration can cover  the member countries, however these countries must expressly be designated, each requiring payment of protectional tax fees. Within 4 months from its filing, the official certificate of the International registration will be received. Yet this registration is subject to national examination procedures in [some of] the designated countries. Consequently the international registration may be subject to total/partial refusal or opposition by third parties.
The International registration expires 10 years after the filing date and is always renewable for same periods. However during 5 years from the registration date, the International registration remains dependent on the so-called ’home-registration’.

National trademark protection in other countries

If protection is [also] desired in other countries than the countries covered by the International registration, national applications in these non-member countries may be filed. The requirements and costs thereof however vary per country; on request we can provide you with an updated review on costs and [formal] requirements.

Trademark Watch

According to the Benelux Treaty on Intellectual Property the owner of a trademark is obliged to prevent so-called dilution of trademarks by opposing any infringement. Also for competition reasons we would advise you to proceed against any infringing trademarks. However, it is often the case that you are not (yet) informed about potentially infringing trademarks in Benelux. We can now offer you a trademark watch, consisting of a three-monthly research for new trademark applications and/or registrations in Benelux which are identical or highly similar to your trademark. If we encounter such an infringing trademark application and/or registration we will inform you and, if required, advise you about any necessary action.
On request we can inform you about the possibilities of Trademark Watches in other countries or areas.
Any entrepreneur should remain continuously aware of any competitive activities in the market which may undermine or infringe respectively upon any of his intellectual property rights. Alertness in this respect will always be an absolute “must”.

Legal effect of trademark protection

The owner of a trademark can prohibit third parties from using its sign or a similar sign in the course of the trade from the date of publication of registration in the entire territory, provided the registration cannot be invalidated on the grounds of non-use during a period of 5 consecutive years. Third parties can be prevented from use of any sign which is identical with the trademark in relation to goods or services which are identical with those covered by registration; where, because of its identity with or similarity to the trademark and the identity or similarity of the goods or services covered by the trademark and this sign, there exists a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public; which is identical with or similar to the trademark in relation to goods or services which are dissimilar, where this trademark has a reputation and where the use of that sign without due cause takes unfair advantage of, or is detrimental to, the distinctive character or the repute of the trademark.