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EUIPO trade mark focus: trends from 2010 to 2019

In this article we summarise key points from the recently published “EUIPO Trade Mark Focus – 2010 to 2019 Evolution” report, which focuses on the successful progress of EUTMs over the last decade.

Global EUTM filing volumes and countries

Between 2010 and 2019 there were nearly 1.27 million EUTM filings. There was an exceptional growth of 63.1% when comparing the 2019 and 2010 filing volumes. The percentage of EUTMs filed via the Madrid system slightly increased from approximately 14.5% in 2010 to 17.8% in 2019.

Most EUTM filings originate from the EU, led by Germany and followed by the UK, Italy, Spain and France. However, the EU share fell over the past decade from 71.3% in 2010 to 64.7% in 2019. The three top non-EU countries filings originate from the US, China and Switzerland, representing almost 2/3 of all non-EU direct filings. Thereby, China increased its share from 1.4% in 2010 to 9.5% in 2019 and filings have grown by 1,027.9% compared to 2010.

Global direct EUTM filing applicants

The top 10 direct EUTM filers come from large multinational enterprises and market leaders in their respective sectors (LG Electronics, L’Oréal, Novartis, Samsung, Huawei, Dracco Brands, GSK, P&G, Johnson & Johnson, Novamatic). However, the top 10 filers collectively only represent 1.3% of overall EUTM applications, which were filed by over 497,000 different applicants.

Global direct EUTM filing classes

Direct EUTM filings between 2010 and 2019 included over 3.4 million associated classes of the Nice Classification, headed by class 9 (electrical apparatus; computers) and followed by class 35 (advertising; business management) and class 42 (scientific & technological services), the three of which representing slightly over 25% of the total classes filed.

Examination of EUTM filings

The average deficiency rate was at almost 35%, of which the vast majority (46%) related to classification of goods and services.

Refusal of EUTM filings (absolute grounds)

In the past decade, more than 52,000 absolute grounds refusals were issued. The majority (54.9%) of such refusals concerned trade marks devoid of any distinctive character, followed by an additional 41.8% of trade marks refused due to descriptiveness. The vast majority of the absolute grounds refusals were accepted by the applicants as on average only 14.4% of the refusals were appealed. Interestingly, the appeal rate fell from almost 16% in 2010 to less than 12% in 2019.

Publication of EUTM filings

Between 2010 to 2019 approximately nine out of ten EUTM applications were published (that is, not withdrawn or refused due to deficiencies). The average time from EUTM filing to publication (regular track) was reduced by 78.5% from on average 37 working days in 2010 to on average eight working days in 2019. Fast track filings were introduced in 2014 and are published on average in less than seven working days.

EUTM registration: timeliness

During the last decade, more than 1.13 million EUTMs were registered. The EUIPO improved its timeliness for direct filings by 22.1%. The average time of a direct EUTM from filing to registration decreased from six months in 2010 to 4.7 months in 2019 (in cases of no deficiencies or oppositions). For IR marks designating the EU, the corresponding time period decreased from more than ten months in 2010 to approximately seven months in 2019.

Global direct EUTM registration owners

These are for the most part identical with the list of top 10 applicants, including nine of the ten top 10 EUTM applicants (LG Electronics, L’Oréal, Novartis, Samsung, GSK, Huawei, Johnson & Johnson, P&G, Novamatic, Nestlé). Of these top ten, which represent 1.3% of overall EUTM registrations from the past decade, enterprises based in Europe account for 49.2%, while Asian companies file 38% and North American firms the remaining 12.9%.

EUTM opposition proceedings

More than 176,000 oppositions were filed during the period of 2010 and 2019. While the number of oppositions per year remains relatively stable, the opposition rate per application decreased from 14.3% in 2010 to 10.7% in 2019 due to the higher growth in absolute filing figures.

Interestingly, 63% of all the oppositions in the past decade were resolved during the “cooling-off” period. If a decision was taken, on average about 35% of the oppositions were totally rejected, about 35% were partly upheld and approximately 30% were successful leading to a total refusal of the application. On average, in 2019 a decision was taken faster in approximately 19.3 months compared to approximately 23.1 months in 2010.

English is the predominant language of the proceedings (increasing from 78.5% in 2010 to 83.7% in 2019) followed by German (7.9% in 2019) and Spanish (4.0% in 2019). Most oppositions were filed by parties from Germany (25.5%), followed by Spain, the US, the UK and France.

EUTM cancellation proceedings

More than 16,000 cancellation actions were filed during the period of 2010 and 2019 with an annual growth rate of 10.1%. However, the cancellation rate remained stable in the past decade. More than 40% of all cancellation motions were withdrawn, while approximately ¼ of all decisions confirm a full cancellation and only approximately one in ten cancellation motions is rejected. On average, in 2019 a decision was taken faster in approximately 14.7 months compared to approximately 18.3 months in 2010. English is the predominant language of the proceedings (on average 74.8% in the past decade) followed by German (14.8% in 2019) and Spanish (3.8% in 2019).

EUTM renewals

In the past decade, over 353,000 EUTM registrations were renewed. On average, more than 50% of the EUTMs were renewed (for the first or second time).

EUTMs in force

As of 01 January 2020, there were over 1.6 million EUTMs in force.

Further information

The latest EUIPO report builds upon and updates the first edition of the Trade Mark Focus Report, first published in 2018.

For more information about the 2020 report see the EUIPO website:

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