Trademark Law Modernisation Act
First experiences and outlook
In this dossier, we report on initial experiences and findings regarding the modernised trademark law, which came into force at the beginning of 2019:
Since January 2019, it has also been possible to register quality seals or test marks of neutral certification companies in Germany as certification marks for the goods and/or services that have undergone the respective certification process.
In contrast to the individual trade mark, this new trade mark category focuses on the guarantee function.
Whereas in the past, register marks had to be capable of being represented graphically, since January 2019, the only requirement has been that they can be identified with sufficient clarity and precision. Thus, for example, noise-like sound marks, multimedia marks, holograms and other types of marks in appropriate electronic formats can now also be registered as trade marks, provided that no grounds for refusal exist. The purpose of this increased variety of labelling methods is to accommodate the needs of the market for modern types of trade marks.
Geographical indications and designations of origin for foodstuffs, wine and spirits, which are protected under national or European legislation or international agreements, were included in the Trade Mark Act as absolute grounds for refusal in January 2019. In addition, protected traditional terms for wine and traditional specialities guaranteed in the food sector must also be taken into account as absolute grounds for refusal.
Before the reform of trade mark law, each opposition filed had to be based on a single opposing sign. If the proprietor wanted to base his opposition on several opposing signs, several oppositions had to be filed. Since 14 January 2019, the proprietor of several earlier rights can assert them with a single opposition. As before, the DPMA can decide on several oppositions jointly.
Trade mark licences are now entered in the register upon request of the trade mark proprietor (licensor) or the licensee if the respective other party consents to it. The entry includes information on the licensee, the type of licence and limitations, if any. A fee is charged for the registration, amendment and cancellation of a licence in the register. Furthermore, it is now possible to have licences for trade marks for which protection was extended to Germany recorded in the international register.
The duration of protection of a trade mark registered on or after 14 January 2019 ends after ten years on the expiry of the day which corresponds to the filing day (e.g. application of 17 January 2019 – end of protection on 17 January 2029). The calculation of the duration of protection of a national trade mark was thus brought into line with the European Union trade mark.
Last updated: 15 October 2020