Many companies are under the impression that they have protected the rights to their trade names properly. However, research by the Dutch Chambers of Commerce and the Benelux trademark authorities shows that over 90% live under false sense of security, assuming that by either registering their company name with the Chamber of Commerce, or registering an Internet domain name, also secures their trademark rights. In the Benelux/Europe companies are not entitled to their name by use, but by filing them in time with the national authorities. If the application is accepted and the taxes are paid, the trademark is valid for a period of 10 years. However, trademark protection is limited to certain classes of goods and services, as defined in the Nice system. The Benelux trademark authorities have always used a system of fees based on a flat fee, regardless of whether you make a trademark claim for 1 class or 3 classes. That was a big advantage for businesses. The trademark claim does not have to be limited to current product / services, but van also include product extensions that are due to be launched within years to come. This system will come to an end on January 1st. The government will from then on charge a fee per class. The aim is to decongest the trademark registers. As a collateral advantage for the authorities, more fees are collected.
For companies that have not yet claimed their trade name or brand names for their products/service in the Benelux, there’s now an incentive to do so quickly, thus avoiding an unnecessary cost increase. If the application is submitted before December 31, 2018 applications are charged by the old system. Our trademark advisors are happy to write a tailor-made advice for this.
This new system also has consequences for renewals. If after 10 years a product is still in the market, the existing registration must be renewed. This is possible 6 months before the protection ends. If the renewal is submitted before December 31st the old fees still apply, despite the fact that the validity period remains unchanged. For example, if a trademark is due for renewal by 30 March 2019, and the renewal is submitted before 31 December, applicant pays the old fees. The trademark is then valid until 30 March 2029. Our free advice for business owners, is to check the current trademark portfolio now, see which Benelux registrations need to be renewed until June 30, 2019 and renew them before the end of the year.trademark-registration