The protection provided by trademark registration is specific to a country or area. It is usually advisable to apply for protection in all of the countries where the applicant intends to market and sell products or services under the trademark. International registration systems make it easier to apply for and administer trademarks when protection is needed in several countries.
It is possible to apply for an EU registration for a trademark. EU trademarks, also known as Community Trademarks, make it feasible to apply for protection in the entire area of the European Union with just one application. If an obstacle to registration is discovered in any member state, it is not possible to obtain protection in the entire European Union. In such cases, however, the application can be converted into several national trademark applications, and the applicant can obtain protection in the countries where no obstacles to registration were discovered.
A Community Trademark is valid for ten years from the day of application and can be renewed an unlimited amount of times for ten years at a time.
Community Trademark applications are processed by the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) in Alicante in Spain. In addition to the registration of applications, OHIM handles renewals and transfers of applications as well as other similar procedures.
It should be noted, however, that OHIM only examines formal obstacles to registration; it does not deal with confusingly similar national trademarks and business names as obstacles, for example. Therefore, companies should themselves check to see that confusingly similar trademarks are not entered in the EU Trademark Register.