A trademark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to help consumers indentify that its products or services with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to help distinguish its products or services from those of other entities.
Trademark in Belgium may be designated by the following symbols:
- ® (for a registered trademark)
- ™ (for an unregistered trademark)
A trademark is typically a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or a combination of these elements. There is also a range of non-conventional trademarks comprising marks which do not fall into these standards categories, such as those based on colour, smell, or sound.
A trademark provides protection to the owner of the mark by ensuring the exclusive right to use it to identify goods or services, or to authorize another to use it in return for payment. Trademark protection also hinders the efforts of unfair competitors, such as counterfeiters, to use similar distinctive signs to market inferior or different products or services.
The owner of the registered trademark may initiate legal proceedings for trademark infringement to prevent unauthorized use of that trademark.Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg are treated as one common area and are governed by the uniform trademark law and one trademark office. There are no national trademark laws in any of the Benelux countries anymore.
|Relevant office||Belgium Intellectual Property Office Federal Public Service Economy, SMEs, Self-emloyed and Energy (OPRI)|
|nice classification||Yes (11th edition)|
|Multi class system||Yes|
|Documents required for filing trade mark application||Details of applicant, list of goods and services, reproduction of mark|
|Prosecution process||Filing publication of the mark in the trade mark journal opposition(within 2 months from the publication date) registration renewal|
|Registration term||10 years from the date of application|
|Renewal term||10 years|
Trademark searches in Belgium
It is advisable to conduct a trademark search prior to filing a trademark application to ascertain the availability of trademarks, existence of prior identical/similar marks on the register etc., so as to avoid any objection and opposition with respect to the mark.
A trademark search in Belgium can be conducted for word marks, device marks, numeral and labels. An official search can be conducted at the records of the Benelux office of Intellectual property. The website provides an option of search trademarks, search results can be obtained for the trademarks in Belgium, Europe and international. The website also provides an option of conducting advanced search of trademarks.
Trademark word search edition of Belgium follows the Nice Classification and trademark applications can be filed for goods in classes 1-34 and services in classes 35-45.
It is advisable to conduct comprehensive trademark clearance search in Belgium to ascertain availability of the proposed mark and also to overcome any objection and opposition with respect to mark later on.
Along with trademark search, it is also advisable to do a comprehensive company search and domain search of the proposed trademark in Belgium. It is advisable to conduct a comprehensive search for a figuration trademark. The device marks include individual marks such as stylized letters, numerals, shapes, plants, celestial bodies, living creatures etc. or combination of marks containing device marks. A device mark search in Belgium can be conducted amongst the marks filed and registered as per the Vienna code classification.
Filing trademark applications in Belgium
A person may file multi class or single class trademark applications in Belgium.
Trademark application can be filed in the following categories:
- Ordinary Applications
- Convention application (claiming priority from a convention country)
Ordinary application in Belgium:
Ordinary trademark applications filed Belgium are applications without claiming any priority. Ordinary applications can be filed directly to the Benelux office of Intellectual Property. The application for the registration can be submitted online via BOIP online filing. The option of register a trademark is available on the website. Multi class trademark applications can be filed in Belgium. However, the trademarks act also lays down provisions regarding the filing of priority applications, wherein priority of the mark can be claimed in the said mark filed in a convention country.
Priority trademark applications in Belgium/Convention trademark application in Belgium:
A priority trademark application may be filed in Belgium. A priority trademark application should be filed in Belgium within 6 months after the date on which the application was made in the convention country.
The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, signed in Paris, France, on March 20, 1883, established a Union for the protection of industrial property. It offers national treatment to the applicant residing in the member country of the union, in other words. National treatment is a very important concept and is essential for successfully achieving the fundamental aim of the Paris Convention. The idea is to provide equal treatment to applications from member countries, in a given member country and not to differentiate between the nationals of member countries for the purpose of grant, and protection of industrial property. Priority application can be filed in Belgium within six months of after the date on which the application was made in the Convention Countries.
Trademark classes for goods and services
Belgium follows the nice classification of classes. Benelux office of intellectual property uses the nice classification of classes that groups together similar goods or services into 45 different classes. Classes 1 to 34 are assigned for the goods and classes 35 to 45 are assigned for the services. Each class contains well defines list of terms and cover all the goods and services.
Trademark examination in Belgium
Once the application is submitted for the registration it goes through the examination stage. The application goes through the examination as to formal stage, BOIP checks whether all formalities have been completed. If this is not the case the office will notify the applicant regarding the same and require the applicant to remedy these deficiencies within prescribed time limit. When the application meets all the requirements, the applicant will receive the filing date.
Next comes the substantive examination, BOIP will check whether the application for registration meets all the legal requirements. If it does not the case the BOIP will refuse the application either in full or in part for certain goods and/or services. The applicant can object to this refusal in writing within six months. After this the final decision will be taken. If the applicant is not satisfied with the final decision, the applicant can appeal the decision to the Benelux court of Justice.
Trademark opposition in Belgium
On the successful completion of the examination stage the application for registration is accepted and published in the Benelux trademarks register for the third party observations. Any interested party may file notice of opposition within 2 months from the date of the publication.
Based on the submissions filed by both the parties, BOIP will decide to Grant the opposition in full-where the trademark of the defendant will be struck either in part or in full with respect to goods and services against which opposition is filed, grant the opposition in part- BOIP gives decision partly in favour of the opponent, the trademark of the defendant will be struck partly from the trademark register and reject the opposition- in this case if the opposition is filed and is rejected fully, the trademark of the opponent and the defendant will remain in the trademark register.
The parties concerned may appeal against the decision of the office to the Benelux court of justice.
Trademark registration in Belgium
The application shall proceed to registration where there is no opposition or where the opposition was filed and was decided in favor of the applicant. The mark is registered for a period of 10 years from date of application and the registration certificate is issued.