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Trademark Protection Costs in the Benelux Union: A Living Lab for the European Union

Published on 25 January 2019

In some of our earlier articles, we discussed the costs of brand protection (i.e. trademark protection costs) in several regional organizations, trade blocs, and continents, including: the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization, the African Intellectual Property Organization, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Eurasian Economic Union, MERCOSUR, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the African continent. In this article, we turn the spotlight to the costs of brand protection in the "Benelux" Union, which is a regional organization that encompasses three economies with strategic locations in the heart of Western Europe.

The Benelux Union

In 1944, the Governments of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg sowed the first seeds of European integration, with the formation of the Benelux as a customs union. The acronym Benelux was coined by combining the first two letters of Belgium and the Netherlands, with the first three letters of Luxembourg.

In 1958, the scope of the customs union was subsequently expanded and deepened to include economic cooperation as well, thereby giving birth to the Benelux Economic Union.

Sustainable and digital cooperation, internal market and economy, and security and society constitute the three pillars of cooperation that steer the current operations of the Benelux Union, which generates approximately 8% of Europe’s Gross Domestic Product.

The Benelux Union serves as "a living lab for the European Union", with its process of formation being widely recognized as a "prototype for the European Union itself" (http://www.benelux.int; accessed April 30, 2018, and the European Commission; 2013).

Trademark Legislation in the Benelux Union

Trademark filing and registration in the Benelux Union is governed by the Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property, which came into existence in 2006 as a result of the consolidation and replacement of the separate rules on trademarks, drawings, and designs.

The Benelux Office for Intellectual Property, headquartered in The Hague, is the statutory body that oversees the administration of the Convention on Intellectual Property.

Unitary Nature of Trademarks in the Benelux Union

As is the case with the trademark systems administered by the European Union Intellectual Property Office and the African Intellectual Property Organization ("OAPI"), a trademark registered in the Benelux Union is also of unitary character. All the three member countries are, thus, automatically covered under a single trademark application, without the requirement for separate designations at the time of filing.

Trademark Filings in the Benelux Union

As per the Annual Report of the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property, close to 22,000 trademark applications were filed with the Office in the year 2016. This figure is more or less similar to the numbers over the previous four years, during which period the Office received between 20,000 and 22,000 trademark applications annually.

Trademark Filing and Registration Costs in the Benelux Union

Let us now discuss the costs involved in filing a trademark application in the Benelux Union and, subsequently, getting it registered. Typically, there are two categories of costs involved: official fees and attorney charges.

It is possible to file multi-class trademark applications. The costs are generally dependent on the number of classes of goods and services under which the trademark application is filed. The current version of 'International Classification of Goods and Services' (Nice Agreement Eleventh Edition – Version 2018) contains 34 classes for goods and 11 classes for services.

A trademark registration is valid for 10 years from the application date and is renewable for successive ten-year periods. The filing fee for trademark registration covers up to three classes and the protection for the first ten-year period. There is a supplementary fee for each class in excess of three classes.

Let us consider a trademark application that is to be filed under four classes. For instance, the applicant could be a travel organizer wishing to register under Class 36 (Insurance and Foreign Currency Exchange Services), Class 39 (Travel Arrangements), Class 41 (Education), and Class 43 (Services for Providing Food, Drink, and Temporary Accommodation).

The estimated costs of the trademark process under four classes in the Benelux Union, from filing through registration, add up to approximately $1,970 (Table 1). The costs are inclusive of the fees to perform an official pre-filing search for identical or similar trademarks.

Official Fees – Trademark Search

As is the case with the trademark filing fees, there is a basic search fee for up to three classes and a supplementary search fee for each class in excess of three classes. For the above scenario, the approximate official fees to be paid for requesting a search of a word mark in four classes are $205.

Official Fees – Trademark Filing

The official trademark filing fees are approximately $334.

Official Fee – Registration

There if no official fee to be paid at the registration stage.

Trademark Cost Calculator

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Venkatesh Viswanath (Senior Content Strategist, Quantify IP) contributed to this article.
Exchange Rate Used: 1 U.S. Dollar = 0.86 Euros

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