Brands: Two cases confirm the Court's current attitude to comparative advertising

United Kingdom
Community Trade Marks

The first Community Trade Marks were granted in September 1997, nearly 18 months after applications were first accepted in April 1996. It is estimated by OHIM (Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market) that around 50,000 marks will have been granted by the end of 1998. A large proportion of applications are being contested by third parties, around 20%, which means that opposition proceedings are likely to form a large part of OHIM's work. Of all opposed applications, almost a quarter are opposed by more than one party, which is likely to delay the progress of these applications considerably.

So far, just over half of all applications have been made by EU nationals, with Germany taking the lead and the UK closely following. Nearly 30% of all applications have been made by US nationals. The most popular classes are 9, 16, 25 and 42.

The very powerful right offered by the Community Trade Mark, giving a monopoly over the mark throughout the whole of the EU, makes it imperative for trade mark owners to monitor applications filed at OHIM. This can be done simply and cheaply by employing a specialist watching service.