First of all, we have to define the concept of trademarks. Trademarks are signs allowing business people to distinguish their products or services from the products or services of competitors.
On the other hand, it is necessary to know the difference between trademarks and trade names and corporate names:
- Trade names are signs or denominations identifying a company in trade activities and serve to identify it, separate it and distinguish it from other companies undertaking identical or similar activities.
- The corporate name is the name that identifies a legal entity in mercantile operations as the subject in legal relations and is therefore subject to rights and obligations.
The trade name does not have to be the same as the corporate name and the two may therefore be different. A natural person or legal entity can have various trade names for identifying business activities which belong to different economic activity sectors.
According to the above, we could say that the corporate name is the equivalent of the “civil name” of a private individual and the trade name is the “artistic name” that the person may use to present to clients in the marketplace.
Trademarks and trade names are registered with the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office; corporate names are registered in the Central Mercantile Register.
In addition, we should distinguish from the registration of a national, European and international trademark.
- National Trademark: The application for registration of the same is made before the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (hereinafter, the OEPM), based in Madrid, and the scope of protection extends only to the national territory.
- European Union Trademark: Its effects extend to the territory of the European Union, and can be applied for before the EUIPO, based in Alicante, or directly before the OEPM which will be responsible for forwarding the application to the EIPO.
- International Trademark: It has effect in all countries designated by the applicant, expressly, and the trademark is registered.
How is the process?
The processing of the application takes approximately 6 to 12 months.
The registration of the trademark is granted for 10 years counted from the date of application, so if you want to keep the trademark in force, you must proceed to his renovation.
In the case of the national trademark, the protection obtained with the registration of the trademark extends to the whole national territory.
In order to maintain the registration of the trademark in force, the owner must comply with the following obligations:
- Apply for renewal every ten years by paying the renewal fee.
- Use the trademark.
Registration requirements in Spain
It is necessary that the trademark to be registered is lawful, that is to say, that it does not incur in any of the prohibitions established by the law, and that it is available, that is to say, that it does not conflict with other previous rights, either as a trademark or another private right, such as the right to a name, intellectual property right, etc.
Any natural or legal person can apply, they have to complete the registration application form that can be submitted electronically, it can act either directly, or through an Industrial Property Agent.
Subsequently, they have to pay the application fee for each classification of the trademark applied for.
Finally, after having successfully passed an examination of form and substance, it will be decided if the trademark is granted or refused.
At Letslaw we can give you legal advice on the trademark application process in Spain, Europe and internationally, as well as on the preparation of reports on the viability of trademarks.