On 24th November 2014, the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) introduced a “Fast Track” application process for European Union (CTM) trade marks. This allows for certain trade mark applications to be processed, examined and – if accepted – published much faster than under the current examination turnaround times. The typical “fast-track” publication is expected to take only 3-4 weeks from the filing date of the application, if no objections are raised.
There are numerous conditions for a trade mark application to be “fast-tracked”, but the two most significant ones are:
- The goods and/or services listed in the specification of the trade mark application must be selected from a database of terms already accepted by OHIM.
- The filing fees need to be paid at the time of filing. Under the standard examination system, fees can be paid up to one month after the date of filing.
OHIM recently introduced another change in practice according to which OHIM will only examine an application once payment of the official fees has been received, whereas before it was not unusual to receive an examination report before the official fees had been paid.
The full list of conditions for the “fast-track” examination to apply can be found at here.
Although there is a definite advantage in having a trade mark application published within a month of filing, the limitation of goods and services to those pre-approved by the OHIM may deter applicants with more sophisticated specifications from filing a fast-track application. The application must also proceed without a National Search, no mark description or disclaimer and collective marks cannot be “fast-tracked”. However, for marks with limited goods and/or services and/or a standard specification wording, a “fast-track” application is certainly a useful option now available to trade mark owners to accelerate the progress of an application to publication.
Sean Markham 27 November 2014