Common practice on relative grounds of refusal

The European Trade Mark and Design Network has produced a common practice on relative grounds of refusal to assess the impact of likelihood of confusion.


Common practice on relative grounds of refusal - likelihood of confusion (impact of non-distinctive/weak components)

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The European Trade Mark and Design Network is an initiative to reduce the differences in practices between the national offices and also the European Union Intellectual Property Office. The network provides different options for protecting trade mark and design rights within the EU.

The network has three strands of activity:

  1. Convergence of IT tools through the cooperation fund.
  2. Voluntary convergence of practice via a convergence programme.
  3. A move to further harmonise legislation which is being led by the European Commission.

The convergence work on determining how to assess for a likelihood of confusion in scenarios where the common elements are either weak or non-distinctive falls into the second category. It considers the extent to which the level of inherent distinctiveness (and also the absence of inherent distinctiveness) in common elements can influence and affect likelihood of confusion in the marketplace. The conclusions drawn from this convergence work are set out in the common communication document.

Please note as of 23 March 2016 it will no longer be possible to file an EU-wide trade mark via the UK IPO. From that date all applications for an EU-wide trade mark will need to be through EUIPO directly. Also from that date OHIM will be renamed EUIPO (the European Union Intellectual Property Office) and Community trade marks will be renamed European Union trade marks.

Published 2 October 2014