General information about trademarks
Trademarks are registered signs, the purpose of which is to indicate a product (or service) and to distinguish it from other similar goods. A good trademark gives confidence to consumers and urges them to keep buying the trademarked goods, thus solidifying the market position of the proprietor of the trade mark against competing manufacturers. Hence, trademarks are essential means of market competition.
Most consumer decisions are made based on trademarks. It is not the same at all whether the brand of a TV set is “Sony” or “NoName”. Consumers will certainly think Sony to be of higher quality and only because of the brand. This is why a good trademark is of exceptional importance.
Trademark protection may be granted for any sign (also known as a brand), such as words, combination of words, slogans, logos, etc. While the possible range to select from is wide, trademarks usually cannot be modified after the application for registration was submitted to the authority (you can file an application for registration of the modified version at any time, that will be a new trademark). Unregistered signs are officially called indications or brand names, while registered or protected signs are called trademarks. Not all brand names are eligible for protection; further information on this topic is available in the relevant country’s Trademark Law “Grounds for refusal” section. Unauthorised users of trademarks will mean trademark infringement. The scope of trademark protection exceeds the mere use of identical signs, since the users of similar names, forms, etc., in relation to similar goods (or services) are also liable for trademark infringement if there is a likelihood of confusion.
Trade marks must be registered in order to obtain trade mark protection. It is essential to be the first to register. Marks enjoys protection for 10 years from the date of registration. This term can be extended with further 10-year periods. Not only national trademarks are valid in Hungary but also EU-Community Trademarks and trademarks filed according to Madrid Agreement or Protocol. The Hungarian trademark system has switched to an opposition system with May 1, 2004 effect. In accordance with this, the search of the Hungarian Patent Office is extended to previous trademarks as well; however only upon opposition from the owners of these previously registered marks can registration be refused. Effective use of trademark, registered over 5 years, needs to be proven by the right holder. The examination of substance only includes the absolute grounds of refusal.
- Help to identify the origin of particular products and services.
- Create an exclusive link between the product/service and its owner;
- Guarantee constant quality for the consumer.
- Constitutes a powerful marketing instrument.
- Help to distinguish your products and services from those of competitors and help identify you as the source.
European Trademark (EUTM)
The European Trademark (EUTM), formerly the Community Trade Mark (CTM) system offers trademark owners the opportunity to protect a trademark in all the member states of the European Union (EU) with the filing of a single application. It is an all-or-nothing deal — either you get it for all Member States or you do not get it at all. The registering authority is the European Union Intellectual Property Office (formerly Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market), examines marks only as to the absolute grounds of refusal. As for relative reasons of refusal EUIPO completes a search report. Any natural or legal person, including authorities established under public law, can be the proprietor of an EUTM.
An EU trade mark may consist of any signs, in particular words, including personal names, or designs, letters, numerals, colors, the shape of goods or of the packaging of goods, or sounds, provided that such signs are capable of a distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings; and being represented on the Register of European Union trade marks in a manner which enables the competent authorities and the public to determine the clear and precise subject matter of the protection afforded to its proprietor.
The procedure for the registration of an EUTM is an examination procedure with three main parts:
- examination of the application, which includes whether or not a filing date may be accorded, the formalities examination and the examination as to absolute grounds for refusal, during which search reports are established;
- publication of the application;
- the procedure up to registration, which may include opposition proceedings.
- A single registration — filed online, in one language — is valid in all EU Member States.
- The EU trade mark gives its owner an exclusive right in all current and future EU Member States at a reasonable cost.
- You can enforce your trade mark in a market of almost 500 million consumers.
- Cost is much lower than the collective cost of filing separate applications in each member state
- The automatic extension of existing EUTMs to new member states.
- The application that is refused registration may be converted into national applications in those countries where the ground of refusal does not exist by maintaining the priority of the original application.
International Trademark System
The International Trademark System is a one stop solution for registering and managing marks worldwide. File one application, in one language, and pay one set of fees to protect your mark in the territories of up to 97 members. The system of international trademarks is based on the Madrid System. It provides a means to seek protection for a trademark simultaneously in a large number of jurisdictions. The system is governed by two separate international treaties, the Madrid Agreement (Agreement) and the Madrid Protocol (Protocol). Under the Agreement, nationals of any signatory may secure protection of their trademark, registered in the country of origin, in all other states that are party to the Agreement. Under the Protocol, nationals of any signatory may secure protection in countries and jurisdictions that are contracting parties to the Protocol based on a pending application or registration in the country or jurisdiction of origin.
Before you can file an international application, you need to have already registered, or have filed an application, in your “home” Intellectual Property (IP) office. The registration or application is known as the basic mark. You then need to submit your international application through this same IP Office, which will certify and forward it to World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). WIPO only conducts a formal examination of your international application. Once approved, your mark is recorded in the International Register and published in the WIPO Gazette of International Marks. WIPO will then send you a certificate of your international registration and notify the IP Offices in all the territories where you wish to have your mark protected. It is important to note that the scope of protection of an international registration is not known at this stage in the process. It is only determined after substantive examination and decision by the IP Offices in the territories in which you seek protection. The IP Offices of the territories where you want to protect your mark will make a decision within the applicable time limit (12 or 18 months) in accordance with their legislation. WIPO will record the decisions of the IP Offices in the International Register and then notify you. If an IP Office refuses to protect your mark, either totally or partially, this decision will not affect the decisions of other IP Offices. You can contest a refusal decision directly with the IP Office concerned in accordance with its legislation. If an IP Office accepts to protect your mark, it will issue a statement of grant of protection. The international registration of your mark is valid for 10 years. You can renew the registration at the end of each 10-year period directly with WIPO with effect in the territories that have accepted to protect your mark..
The Madrid System is a system for the international registration of marks.
- You can file one international application, in one language (English, French or Spanish), and pay one set of fees in Swiss francs to obtain international registration in multiple territories.
- Offers the potential for simultaneous protection in up to 113 territories of its 97 members.
- Filing an international application is the equivalent of filing a bundle of national applications, effectively saving you time and money.
- There is no need to pay for translations into multiple languages or to spend extra time working through the administrative procedures of multiples offices.
- The System includes the European Union (EU) and African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), the majority of developed countries and many developing and transition countries.