Trademarks are signs that allow to distinguish your goods or services from those of your competitors in the market. It is distinguished from a brand by having legal protection and it’s your unique identifier. A brand is your image, what the public sees and thinks about your company.

Then, what can be registered as a trademark? A trademark can be a word or a combination of words, letters, and numerals; symbols, three-dimensional features such as the shape and packaging of goods, non-visible signs such as sounds or fragrances, or color shades used as distinguishing features. Some representative examples are available in the European Union Intellectual Property Office – EUIPO –.

Trademarks confer the owner the exclusive right to use the registered trademark, preventing others to make commercial use of it without permission. In business terms, it protects your brand value, it builds an asset, it defends against rival marks, it defines your rights and it prevents counterfeiting and fraud. The owner has also the right to license the trademark to third parties  for use in return for payment.

The trademark protection can be obtained by filing an application for registration with the corresponding trademark office and paying the required fees.

There are four routes for the trademark protection, according to the regions where the owner wants to protect the brand. If you want the protection in one EU Member State, that is protection at ‘national level’, the trademark application is made via the national EU IP offices, as the OEPM- Oficina Española de Patentes y Marcas- in Spain. If the interest is to protect the trademark at ‘EU level’, the registration is made via the EUIPO- the European Union Intellectual Property Office. If the trademark wants to be registered at ‘international level’, the corresponding office is the WIPO- World Intellectual Property Organization. The registration at ‘regional level’ is only available in Belgium, the Netherlands and/or Luxembourg, via BOIP- the Benelux Office por Intellectual Property.

The first step to register the trademark is to contact the corresponding office and follow the steps for registration.

Source: EUIPO, OEPM, WIPO

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