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September-October, 2006 Vol. 96 No. 5 Back to TMR Main Page
Dormant Trademarks in the European Union—Swords of Damocles?
Under European trademark law, unused trademarks remain valid as long as they are not cancelled on account of a non-use action. Even after many years of non-use, such "dormant" marks can be revived by starting or resuming genuine use. In the meantime, junior trademarks may have come into existence. Some of the laws of the EU Member States protect such junior marks from any attacks based on the earlier, previously dormant marks, and the CTM Regulation at least protects a junior CTM registration, although it does not specifically deal with the use of such registration. This article analyses the risks arising from dormant marks for the validity and use of the junior registrations in the EU as a whole and in particular in ten EU jurisdictions, namely Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Benelux countries, Poland, Spain and the U.K., and gives practical advice on how to ensure future use of a junior mark. It also advocates an interpretation of the Community Trademark Regulation (CTMR) that would remove much of the uncertainty concerning CTMs, and better protect junior CTM owners against the risks of dormant marks.
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