Registration of a trademark starts with the application. Learn more about how your application is processed below.
What happens to your application?
Applying for and registering a trademark takes three months on average.
You can also opt for an accelerated registration.
Receipt of application
Upon receipt of your trademark application, confirmation of receipt will be sent to you by e-mail. Your application will appear in the online Benelux Trademarks Register within a day.
The Benelux Trademarks Register is public. As a result, you may be approached by parties offering various services. The practices of some of these service-providers are less than desirable. They are often based outside the Benelux and offer to enter your trademark or design in a nebulous 'international register' for a stiff price.
Publication in an unofficial register certainly does not confer any trademark rights. The Benelux Trademarks Register is an official register which confers protection on the trademarks entered in it.
Status of an application
You can view the status of your trademark application in the Trademarks Register. Enter your application number and click on Search. The status will appear at the bottom of the page.
Examination as to formal requirements
BOIP checks whether your application meets the application requirements for trademark registration. If your application is compliant, we assign a filing date to it. We then conduct a substantive check regarding classification. In other words, we check whether the products and services are described clearly and assigned to the correct class.
Provided your trademark meets the application requirements, once the substantive examination of the products and services to be trademarked has been completed, your application will be officially published in the Benelux Trademarks Register.
If your application is not compliant for any reason, we will contact you, often to request additional information. If we do not receive the information or do not receive it on time, your application will be refused. In that case, the costs incurred will not be refunded.
Other owners (holders) of trademarks previously registered or requested for the same or similar products or services may lodge an objection (opposition) to your trademark application. They have two months to do, running from the date that your application is published.
Next, we will check whether your trademark meets the legal requirements. If it does not, we are obliged to refuse your application in full or only for certain products and/or services. In the event of refusal of your application in full, the costs incurred in applying will not be refunded.
You can, however, object to our refusal, in writing, within six months. We will assess your objection. If your objection does not provide sufficient grounds to overturn the decision to refuse, a final decision to refuse the application will be issued. You may appeal the final decision to one of the following courts of appeal: the the Benelux Court of Justice.
Acquisition of distinctive character through use
In exceptional cases, following lengthy and intensive use, descriptive labels may come to be perceived as a trademark by consumers. This is called acquired distinctive use. In the Benelux, distinctive character may considered to have been acquired when consumers consider a sign, which is not distinctive per se, nonetheless to be a trademark, because it is descriptive, for example. Take, for example, airlines that have a name that originally was descriptive, such as Air France and British Airways, that are now probably considered by everyone in the Benelux as trademarks. You must provide evidence to prove a case of acquired distinctive character.
The opposition period starts to run on the day that your application is published: this is a period during which trademark owners (or licensees with the consent of the trademark owners) or owners of other IP rights (e.g. protected geographical indications) may lodge an objection (opposition) to your trademark application, invoking the trademarks/other IP rights that they have previously registered or requested.
Opposition is a complex legal procedure. If you become involved in an opposition, we advise you to retain the services of an IP professional.
End of the opposition period
There are two possible scenarios at the end of the opposition period:
- opposition has not been filed. If your trademark passes the substantive examination and no opposition has been filed, your trademark will be registered.
- opposition has been filed. If the opposition is admissible and opposition proceedings have indeed commenced, both parties may file their submissions. BOIP will take a decision at the end of the proceedings.
If an opposition is filed and proceedings have indeed commenced, based on the submissions and documents filed by both parties, BOIP will decide to:
- Grant the opposition in full
- Grant the opposition in part
- Reject the opposition.
Opposition is granted in full
If an opposition is filed and is subsequently granted in full, the trademark of the other party (defendant) will be struck from the Trademarks Register in full or in part (i.e. only with respect to those products and services against which opposition was filed). The defendant must pay 1,045 euro to its opponent.
Opposition is granted in part
If an opposition is filed and is subsequently granted in part (i.e. BOIP rules partly in favour of the opponent), the trademark of the other party (defendant) will be struck in part from the Trademarks Register. In other words, the products and services against which an opposition was filed and for which the opposition was deemed to be justified will be removed from the Trademarks Register.
Opposition is rejected
If an opposition is filed and is subsequently rejected, both trademarks will remain in the Trademarks Register. The party who filed the opposition (the opponent) must, pay 1,045 euro to the defendant.
If we find that your trademark meets the formal requirements and no opposition has been filed or the opposition has been rejected, your trademark will be registered and you will become the official owner (holder) of the trademark.
The holder of a pre-existing trademark, another pre-existing IP right or another interested party may apply to have your trademark cancelled after it has been registered. This is done through the cancellation procedure. If this application is granted, your trademark will be struck from the Trademark Register and you will lose your trademark rights. More information
Cancellation is a legally complex procedure. We advise you to engage an IP professional if you find yourself in this situation.
You can also opt for an accelerated registration of your trademark for which an additional fee is due. If the application meets the application requirements, your trademark will be registered directly in the Trademarks Register.
In this case, the substantive examination and opposition, if any, take place after registration (rather than after publication, as is the case with the standard procedure). Therefore, it is possible that the accelerated registration will be reversed and that you are left without a registered trademark. The cost of your application will not be refunded.