Ireland has endorsed the Nice Treaty, opening the way for expansion of the EEC. This raises the question, what to do about trademarks in the proposed new member countries (including eight Eastern European countries, as well as Cyprus and Malta) identical to existing Community Trademarks but having different owners. The CTM sets out to be a uniform EEC-wide trademark – third party prior rights in a single EEC-member country will defeat a CTM trademark application. What if, for example, a company owns a CTM for ACME for widgets and a different entity owns ACME for widgets in Malta.
Before you rush out now to file trademark applications in Malta, seeking to foil some famous mark’s CTM, bear in mind what I am told by my colleague Verena Bomhard of Lovells, who tells us that there will be coexistence, with marks filed in Malta for example, during a certain time prior to accession, being vulnerable for bad faith cancellation. It will be similar to the model – more or less – utilized during German reunification.
More on the CTM and OHIM (the CTM registry) here.