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Blog 17 Oct 2016

Protecting well-known trademarks in the European Union

The basic principle of most continental countries in the EU is that trademark protection is acquired through registration. However, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property provides protection for unregistered trademarks, even when they are not used in certain territories, provided that they are well known.

Unfamiliar concept

This protection is rarely invoked in the European Union – perhaps because continental countries are unfamiliar with the concept of awarding protection without registration, especially for unused trademarks.

The website of the Benelux Office of Intellectual Property (BOIP), for instance, mentions that although it is possible to base an opposition on a well-known trademark, these trademarks are rare in Benelux. The trademark must be "very well-known"; having a simple reputation will not suffice.


Hence, the protection of well-known trademarks seems to fail in continental Europe, where it is unthinkable that a well-known trademark could not have been registered in the European Union.

Daan Wijnnobel - trademark and design attorney at NLO Shieldmark - analyses the possibilities of invoking well-known trademark protection during administrative proceedings and the benefits of doing so in specific circumstances.

Article 'Protecting well-known trademarks in the European Union'
pdf - 1.88 MB

This article first appeared in IAM Yearbook: Building IP value in the 21st century 2017,a supplement to IAM, published by Globe Business Media Group - IP Division.