The following information has been received today by Class 46 from our friends at the Office for Harmonisation in the internal Market, OHIM. Since it is of obvious importance, this blogger is reproducing it in full, adding a few personal comments of his own ...
Community trade mark applications will now only be examined after they are paid for
We are changing our examination workflow to increase efficiency
From November 24, OHIM will only examine trade mark applications and process any mail related to them after they are paid for [how many of us only wish that we would only have to do our work after we've been paid for it!]. This means we can be more efficient as an Office, as we will no longer examine applications that ultimately will never be paid for.
OHIM is a European Union agency that serves businesses across the EU. We have a duty to all those who use our services to be as efficient as possible – and to pass those efficiency gains back to our users. Historically 4% of the Community trade mark applications we receive are examined but not paid for – and this figure is increasing. That means we lose time and we lose efficiency. By linking the examination of an application to its payment, we will be making sure that files that are paid for are treated in a timely manner and we will avoid examining files that will never be paid for [this raises interesting questions about the meaning of the word 'efficiency'. Presumably it does not refer to the examination process itself, since it should take the same amount of time to examine an application regardless of whether it has been paid for. As for efficiency in recovering monies owed, that might be a different matter ...].
Fast Track processing of trade mark applications
From November 24, and coinciding with this change, our users will have the option of having their applications published more quickly with our new "Fast Track" procedure. The Fast Track means that the trade mark will be published in half the time or less, as compared to regular applications. The Fast Track also means no classification deficiencies – our users have to select their goods and services from a database of terms already accepted by OHIM and by almost all national intellectual property offices of the European Union.
For an application to qualify for, and remain in, Fast Track applicants need to, among other conditions:
Select the goods and services from OHIM’s harmonised database, which contains pre-validated and pre-translated terms.
Pay at the end of the application process or immediately after submission.
Additionally, the application should not trigger any deficiency finding at the time of submission or during its examination by OHIM staff [the fast-tracking of applications may prove popular, especially if it costs the same as slow-tracking. The information here doesn't say that it will cost more].
More details will be available soon. Check the news section of OHIM website or your User Area's news tab.
[There then follow what look like a sequence of FAQs]
1. I would like my application to be examined as soon as I submit it, what can I do?
To have your application examined immediately, you need to pay at the payment step of the application process or, if you are paying by bank transfer, your need to pay immediately after submitting your application.
You can pay via:
Credit card: The payment will be deemed as paid immediately and we will process your trade mark application as soon as we get it.
Bank transfer: You will need to transfer the fee immediately after applying. Please also bear in mind that we do not issue a request for payment. It is up to you to take the appropriate steps to order the transfer. Please also ensure that you indicate the code provided in the online form in order to ensure the identification of your payment.
OHIM current account: Current account users are generally debited all fees and charges automatically on the very last day of the payment period. If you are a current account user and you would like your application to be examined as soon as you file it, you need to ensure that the 'Debit now' box is ticked in the payment step.
2. I am a current account user, how can I pay before the end of the one-month period?
If you are a current account user and you would like to be debited before the end of the one-month period, you should indicate this by leaving the 'Debit now' box ticked. If you have already submitted your application, you can contact the Office by fax, indicating the application number and requesting the immediate debiting of your current account. Do not forget to leave the 'Debit now' box ticked for future applications.
3. Do I still have one month to pay for my application?
Yes, you do. Trade mark applicants can wait until this one-month period elapses. However, our examiners will deal with the applications and their related communications only when they have been paid.
4. If a deficiency is raised regarding my application, can I get my money back? [without looking below, many readers will already be guessing the answer to this question correctly]
No, once the fee is paid it will not be refunded.
5. How can my application be Fast Tracked?
To have your application processed as Fast Track, you will need to pay at the moment of filing or immediately afterwards in case of payment by bank transfer. You will also need to use OHIM's database of accepted terms for classification purposes.
This service will be available from November 24.
6. How do I know that my application has been put on the Fast Track?
The Five-step form has been designed for the Fast Track, so it presents you with mandatory fields and default options that ensure your application can be processed as swiftly as possible.
Our Advanced form has been designed to alert you when your application is a Fast Track one and when it is not. If your application does not fulfil any of the Fast Track conditions, the form will flag this up [this looks like a good idea, and will also jog the memory of applicants and their representatives who may initially have not seriously considered the Fast Track option]. You can then decide whether to make the corrections indicated in the form or just proceed with a regular application. Regular applications are normally published 8 to 11 weeks after payment.
7. Can an application drop out of the Fast Track?
Although some applications may comply with the conditions of Fast Track at the time of filing, they may lose their Fast Track status later on. This can result from a deficiency found during the absolute grounds examination, for example, like the fact that the trade mark you would like to register is not distinctive enough.
Other reasons can be, for example:
Says Class 46, this all looks very promising; we look forward to seeing the further details when they are published. Since the new regime comes into effect in less than a month, these details should be coming any day now.