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Protect your trade marks and designs in the European Union

Protect your intellectual property in the European Union

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Trade mark definition

A little bit of theory

Trade marks are signs used in trade to identify products. In the framework of intellectual property law, trade marks are very useful.

They pack a punch and you shouldn't do business without one.

In the European Union, Member States have harmonised their trade mark laws. From Tallinn to Toledo the rules are the same. Everywhere in the Union, registered trade marks are legally defined in the same way:

'A trade mark may consist of any signs capable of being represented graphically, particularly words, including personal names, designs, letters, numerals, the shape of goods or of their packaging, provided that such signs are capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.'

Article 2, Directive 2008/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council

In practice it means...

Your trade mark is the symbol your customers use to pick you out. It distinguishes you from your competitors. You can protect and build upon your trade mark if you register it. In some countries, you can also get protection even if your trade mark is not registered, as long as it is used. However, you are well advised to register it in order to obtain the best protection.

The only condition imposed on a registered trade mark is that it must be clearly defined; otherwise neither you nor your competitors will be certain of what it covers.



You can register for example a:

Word mark icon formed by the A letter

Word mark

A word mark is represented using words, letters, numbers or any other characters that can be typed.

See examples
Figurative mark icon formed by a polygon

Figurative mark

A figurative mark is represented using pictures, graphics or images.

See examples
Figurative mark with word elements icon formed by a polygon with the A letter inside it

Figurative mark with word elements

A figurative mark containing letters combines the use of pictures, graphics or images with words or letters.

See examples

3 D mark icon formed by a three-dimensional polyhedron

3D mark

A three-dimensional mark is represented using a three-dimensional shape, such as the actual product or its packaging.

See examples
Colour mark formed by a sample of a color palette

Colour mark

A colour per se mark is used only to register an actual colour to distinguish products or services.

See examples
Sound mark icon formed by a speaker

Sound mark

A sound mark must be represented graphically using, for example, musical notation ♫.

See examples

Page last updated 15-11-2013