Since its inception in 1996, the Community Trademark Office has provided search reports to trademark applicants advising them of potentially conflicting marks on its own Register, as well as reports of such marks on the national Registers of participating European Union member states. As of March 10, 2008, this system has now changed.
Although the Community Trademark Office will continue to provide applicants with search reports of its own database, and notify trademark owners identified in such reports, Community Trademark applicants will now have the option to choose if they also want search reports from the 16 currently participating national Trademark Offices. The national search reports must be requested at the time of the application’s filing, and will incur an additional fee. As before, all the Community Trademark Office search reports are advisory in nature and do not constitute citations against an application; it is up to the trademark owners themselves to take action to oppose an application. Many find these search reports valuable in warning of possible conflicts.
The participating national Trademark Offices must now produce their reports within two months of receiving a request, rather than what used to take three months or more. In addition, the national search reports must now provide more uniform information which may make them more useful to applicants in identifying potential conflicts. With this new procedure, it is envisioned that all Community Trademark applications, especially those that do not request national search reports, will now proceed to registration more quickly.