"Commission proposes regular review of EU trademark fees
The European Commission has set out, in the form of a Communication, its vision for the long-term financing of the EU agency responsible for granting EU-wide trademark and design rights, OHIM (Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, located in Alicante, Spain). The Commission proposes the introduction of a regular and automatic review of trademark fees in order to ensure a reasonable balance in OHIM's budget. In the shorter term, this should mean lower trademark fees and a reduction in OHIM's surplus cash reserves.
Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: 'OHIM is showing that it is keenly aware of the need to run its affairs efficiently and offer value for money. In a way, it has become a victim of its own success. I welcome a structural solution to avoid disproportionate cash reserves and other future imbalances in the OHIM budget. This approach is also great news for businesses, which will soon be able to get EU-wide trademark protection at even more attractive rates.'
Why introduce a structural fee reform?
As a self-financing EU agency, OHIM has a budget that is independent from the Community budget and is subject to the requirement that the revenue and expenditure in the budget shall be balanced. The budget of OHIM is mainly funded by the fees that businesses have to pay for its services.
OHIM is generating substantial cash reserves arising from several causes including steadily rising numbers of trade mark and design applications, increased productivity and improved efficiency of the agency, as well as growth in e-business. Despite recent fee reductions these cash reserves are expected to grow further in the coming years. By the end of 2005 cumulative cash reserves reached more then EUR 130 million, while cumulative reserves could easily reach EUR 375 million by the end of 2010 and nearly EUR 700 million by the end of 2016. A significant annual surplus which causes structural year-on-year increases in the accumulated cash reserves is not acceptable in the long run. [...]"
Wiener Zeitung reports [in German only, sorry] that not all EU Member States are happy with this proposal of the EU Commission. Spain is said to oppose, and other countries fear that if the Community Trade Mark takes too much credit for its operations then the money for national trade mark institutions might be reduced to a trickle, drying up trade mark departments of national Patent Offices.