The position of the Hungarian Patent Office on the debate in the European Parliament concerning the use of Community trade marks in the internal market
On 21 September 2010, a debate took place in the European Parliament concerning the use of Community trade marks in the internal market on the basis of an oral question where a decision taken by the Hungarian Patent Office (HPO) was also discussed. In that regard, the HPO wishes to offer the following comments.
The HPO is committed to the proper functioning of the EU's internal market as well as to providing protection for Community trade marks in full accordance with the requirements and needs of that internal market.
The recent decisions taken by the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property and the HPO do not at all challenge these basic principles. (The English summary of the HPO's decision is available here.) These decisions have only found it inappropriate that the proprietor of a Community trade mark should be able to oppose (and, as a result, to prevent) the registration of a national trade mark in a given Member State where the use of the Community trade mark was limited to the territory of another, single Member State. This reflects the HPO's belief that it is in fact the current practice of the Community trade mark office (OHIM), which is based on an outdated and legally non-binding Joint Statement, that runs counter to the fundamental objectives of the Community trade mark system and the internal market as well as to the interests of SMEs. It seems logical and justified to require that a trade mark only be protected (and remain protected) throughout the entire internal market if it is seriously and genuinely used within that market. Linking that use requirement to national boundaries, namely, to the territory of a single Member State, does not seem to serve the needs of the internal market. (It is worth noting that even the proprietor of the Community trade mark has accepted the HPO's decision as he has not appealed against it.)
We are also convinced that the approach reflected in the HPO's decision by no means hinders the efficient enforcement of Community trade mark rights, either at the EU's external borders or within the internal market. (See here the position of the HPO on the examination of the genuine use of a Community trade mark by customs authorities in their procedure.)
Nevertheless, the Hungarian authorities remain open to further discussions on the use requirement for Community trade marks, and we await with great interest the results of the Commission's comprehensive study on the functioning of the trade mark system in Europe.