A trademark is a sign that distinguishes your products or services from those of your competitors. Essential is that the trademark has distinguishing characteristics.
Examples of a trademark are word marks or device marks, such as the name Shell or its logo. Also packaging, such as the Coca-Cola bottle can be protected.
You can choose between:
a Benelux trademark, via the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) in The Hague.
For Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (the BeNeLux countries), you can register your trademark immediately. Your trademark will last for 10 years and can be renewed indefinitely.
a Community trademark, via the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The EUIPO was known as OHIM (Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market) until 23 March 2016.
European law is applicable to this type of trademark and gives you strong, exclusive rights for the entire European market. Your Community trademark will last for 10 years and can be extended indefinitely.
an International trademark, via the agency in the applicant’s country of origin, such as the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP).
An international trademark offers you protection in a large number of countries throughout the world. It covers those countries that are affiliated with the Madrid Agreement or the Madrid Protocol. You may request protection in all affiliated countries, but you may also opt for a number of these countries. Once the BOIP has carried out its checks (the international application must be the same as the Benelux registration, for example), the application is sent to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), which is responsible for registering the international trademark.
Advice and support
Please contact a trademark attorney for advice and support with registering your trademark or trade name. The attorney will be able to advise you on your trademark strategy and assist you in any disputes. Further information about the trademark attorney can be found on the website of the Benelux Association for Trademark and Design Law, the professional association for trademark and design attorneys. Their website is only available in Dutch and French.
It is possible to consult trademark databases to see if any mark has already been registered or applied for that is similar to your mark and used on related products or for related services. Users are advised that business decisions should not be made on the basis of these searches alone. It is advisable to seek professional advice (from a registered patent or trademark attorney) before taking important business decisions.
Benelux trademark database : Benelux trademarks, as well as Community trademarks (European trademarks) and international trademarks in which the Benelux countries have been designated.
European trademark database : Community Trademarks that are registered at the EUIPO
TMView : registered trademarks from trademark offices in EU member states, the EUIPO and the WIPO.