Issues and Challenges
While the Community trade mark system works well, the changes in the business environment since the Regulation was designed and new ideas about the future role of the Office, mean that there will be a requirement for some legislative changes.
The Office has already expressed the view that new competencies in the field of IP could be taken on board. Should the European Commission agree with that, we are ready to cooperate in whatever is in the best interests of IP users.
At present the Commission has asked OHIM to get more involved in enforcement activities, namely to take a wider role in the EU’s Observatory on Piracy and Counterfeiting. The Office has existing expertise in this area. We run a well-regarded seminar series for judges in the CTM and RCD courts in EU member states and have also promoted awareness of counterfeiting through training and e-learning resources.
Moreover, we have developed a legal database of infringement cases drawn from throughout the EU and there are plans to create significant database information tools on enforcement through the OHIM Cooperation Fund.
Ultimately our goal is to becoming a more fully rounded IP office for the EU, helping it reach its goals in terms of competitiveness and innovation. This is something which the Office’s experience means it is well-placed to provide. It is also something that Europe needs if the undoubted success of the Community trade mark and design systems is to be translated into economic success for our customers in the EU’s single market.
A Commission Study on the Overall Functioning of the Trade Mark System is currently under way with the Max Planck Institute, and is expected to be published early in 2011. This study was first suggested by the Council of Ministers in 2007 and was one of the elements agreed at the 2009 meeting of the Administrative Board and Budget Committee on how to balance OHIM’s budget.
When the Study is published the Commission will start drawing up the legislative proposals and the related impact assessment. In practice, given the need for improved harmonization between the legal framework and practice at EU and national level, the Commission may decide to negotiate the revision of the Community Trademark Regulation and the revision of the Directive harmonizing National Trademark Laws as a package. The first presentations on the "package" of proposals, in the Council and European Parliament, are expected to start in October 2011.
OHIM regards the study as an historic opportunity to redefine the balance and coexistence between the Community trade mark system and the trade mark national systems and redefine the existing cooperation between OHIM and the central IP Offices of the EU Member states.
However, the Office believes that the political consensus for the unitary nature of the CTM must not be revisited or undermined – a view which was recently supported by the Commission and MEPs at a debate in the European Parliament.