The Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union
‘Opposition’ is a procedure that takes place before OHIM when a third party requests the Office to reject a Community trade mark application (CTMA).
Once published there is a three-month opposition period. If no oppositions are filed during this period, the application proceeds to registration.
In general terms, an opponent must have rights in an earlier trade mark or other form of trade sign. The grounds on which an opposition may be made (called ‘relative grounds for refusal’) are indicated in Article 8 of the Regulation. For an opposition to be successful, the trade mark applied for must be found to be incompatible with such rights. Any proceedings start with a period during which parties can negotiate an agreement, the so-called "cooling-off" period. During this period the parties are given the possibility of terminating the proceedings without incurring additional costs.
When an opposition is filed, the proceedings will include an exchange of observations from both the opponent and the applicant (the ‘parties’). After considering these observations, and if agreement has not been reached between the parties, the Opposition Division of OHIM will decide either to reject the contested application totally or in part. If the opposition is not well founded it will be rejected. If the CTMA is not totally rejected, and provided there are no other oppositions pending, it will proceed to registration.
The decision of the Opposition Division is subject to appeal by any of the parties. The appeal is decided by OHIM’s Boards of Appeal. A further appeal can be made to the Court of First Instance of the European Communities (CFI) and ultimately to the Court of Justice of the European Communities (ECJ).
How to file an opposition
Oppositions against Community trade mark applications may be filed online, by fax or by mail. Should you wish to file an opposition by fax or by mail a form is available.
The use of the form for the Notice of Opposition is not compulsory. However, the correct use of the form normally ensures that the Notice of Opposition will not face any deficiency. In that case, reading the relevant explanatory notes is highly recommended. They will guide you through the completion of the Notice of Opposition form and provide indications on how to submit it, what fees are due and how to pay them.
General outline of opposition proceedings