40pc reduction in EU trademark costs will boost SME exports

9 Apr 2009

A senior patent attorney has said the decision by EU commissioner Charlie McCreevy to knock 40pc off the cost of registering a European Community trademark for 27 countries will be welcome news to Irish exports and SMEs in particular.

Seamus Doherty (pictured), senior trademark attorney at patent and trademark firm Cruickshank, said the move will mean that the cost of registering a trademark for an area with a population of 495 million people will be around three times the cost of a comparable Ireland-only trademark.

“This will provide great value for Irish companies looking to protect their brands, names and logos, and given the current economic environment, the timing could not be better,” Doherty explained.

“This will be the second cut in fees in five years. Obtaining registration of a European Community trademark has become easier, and the average time to get registration has dropped to eight months. We expect that it will encourage exporters and SMEs in particular to broaden their intellectual property portfolios and business focus, as cost has traditionally been a major barrier.”

Doherty expects that any applications made from today will benefit, even though implementation of the regulation has yet to take place.

“In essence, trademark applications filed before 1 May, 2009 will only be subject to the official fee, which is currently €750. As the registration fee will not fall due until after 1 May, 2009, at which stage it will have been abolished, it will then bring the official cost of filing a trademark application in Europe to the lowest level it has ever been.”

The current official cost of obtaining registration covering the 27 member states of the EU is going to drop from €1,600 to €900. 

“Last year, there were 760 applications for European Community trademarks from Ireland, compared to 2,691 national applications. We expect that this initiative will attract more people to apply for the significantly more valuable European Community trademark, covering the 27 member states. It could also put some competitive pressure on our national trademark registration authority, the Irish Patents Office, to examine its filing fee structure, as is happening in the UK,” Doherty said.

There is growing expectations that a new EU agreement will be announced to pass a percentage of trademark renewal fees back to member states to promote the trademark systems. 

Doherty is strongly supportive of this: “There is a common misunderstanding that ownership of a web domain name or company or business name registration gives a right to a trademark under a particular name.

“The reality is that a trademark is the only way of protecting your rights using a particular name. We would support any initiative to educate the general business community about the importance and value in trademarks, and therefore increase the overall level of trademark registrations,” Doherty said.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: Seamus Doherty, senior trademark attorney at Cruickshank