General information


Brand, Logo, Service mark, Trade name

A trademark is a type of intellectual property that protects brand names, logos, slogans, and other distinctive marks that are used to distinguish a particular product or service from those of other companies. Trademarks are used to prevent confusion among consumers and to protect the reputation and goodwill of a business. When a company registers a trademark with the relevant government authority, they are granted the exclusive right to use that mark in connection with their products or services, and they can take legal action against anyone who infringes on that right. Trademarks are important for businesses because they help to establish brand recognition and consumer loyalty, which can be valuable assets in the marketplace.

Trademark Search

Let’s say you are a fashion designer based in the EU who has started a business designing and selling recycled, naturally coloured clothing under the brand name “EcoSpicy”. Before you start using this name in connection with your clothing line, you want to make sure that the name is available for use as a trademark in the EU and does not infringe on any existing trademark rights.

To conduct a prior art trademark search in the EU, you might start by using the online database of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), which allows you to search for existing trademarks registered with the EUIPO. You could search for the term “EcoSpicy” and similar terms to see if any existing trademarks might be similar or potentially confusing to your proposed brand name.

In addition to searching the EUIPO database, you might also conduct a search of common law trademarks, which are trademarks that have not been registered with the EUIPO but may still be enforceable in certain EU countries. This search could involve searching online databases, business directories, and social media platforms to see if any other companies or individuals are using the name “EcoSpicy” or similar terms in commerce.

By conducting a prior art trademark search in the EU for “EcoSpicy”, you can identify any potential conflicts or risks associated with using the name as a trademark, and make informed decisions about your branding and marketing strategies in the EU market.

Trademark classification

Nice Classification

The Nice Classification or the International Classification of Goods and Services is a system used for the classification of goods and services for trademark registration purposes. Like the Locarno classification (for design), it is also managed by WIPO.

It includes 45 classes (classes 1-34 include goods and classes 35-45 embrace services), which are organised according to different categories and subcategories. This makes it easier for trademark owners to identify and register their marks for the goods and services they provide, and for trademark examiners to evaluate the distinctiveness of marks and determine whether they can be registered.

Nice Agreement is open to states (France, Norway, Turkey, and so on) which are parties to the “Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property ” and is used by several trademark offices around the world (WIPO, USPTO, EUIPO). This agreement helps to ensure consistency and uniformity in the registration and protection of trademarks across different jurisdictions.

By identifying and classifying goods and services that are sustainable and promote circularity, the Nice Classification can help to encourage the development and adoption of more sustainable and green products and services, which can contribute to a more sustainable and green economy overall.

Vienna Classification

The Vienna Classification is an international classification of the figurative elements of trademarks. Like many other classifications, it is administered by WIPO. It was established by the Vienna Agreement of 1973, an international treaty that simplifies the registration and classification of figurative elements.

Its primary purpose is to provide a standardised framework for the systematic classification of figurative elements, such as logos, emblems, and other non-textual components of trademarks. It consists of a hierarchical system that proceeds from the general to the particular, classifying the figurative elements of marks into categories, divisions and sections, on the basis of their shape. Currently, the Vienna Classification comprises 29 categories and numerous subclasses.

Similar to the case of Locarno and EuroLocarno classification, EUIPO maintains its own modified version of the Vienna classification that is adapted to the specific needs of EUIPO and is used in its eSearch plus database.