The Benelux Trademarks Office is the official body responsible for the registration of Benelux trademarks, and is charged with the implementation of the Uniform Benelux Law on Marks. It is a public service, which administers the Benelux Register and provides the public with exclusive information within the statutory provisions. The three countries governed by its law are Belgium, Luxemburg and Netherlands
You may only apply if you are
- an applicant with a place of residence within the Benelux region;
- a correspondent who can be the owner of the trademark;
- a trademarks attorney; or
a natural person or legal person who has a postal address within the Benelux region
According to the Uniform Benelux Law on Marks, a trademark is any sign capable of being represented graphically which can distinguish the goods and services of one enterprise from those of others. In short, a trademark is a sign that allows one product or service to be distinguished from another.
The Benelux Law on Marks is uniform, which means that your trademark is protected throughout the entire Benelux region. Since the Uniform Benelux Law on Marks came into effect on 1 January 1971, trademark protection at a "national" level is no longer possible.
If you register your trademark within the Benelux countries, your protection is also limited to the Benelux region. This means that you will have no protection in Germany or France, in border territory or elsewhere in the world.
The geographical extent of protection is dependent upon the countries in which you wish to require trademark protection. The possibilities are as follows:
The community trademark: this provides protection in the member states of the European Union. By means of one application you can apply for trademark registration in all member states of the European Union. If, however, an objection is raised to your trademark application in one country because (for example) earlier national rights exist, or because the 'sign' is not eligible for registration, the community application will not be registered.
The international registration: based on a Benelux registration, you can obtain trademark protection in some or all of the countries that are party to the so-called Madrid Agreement and Protocol with just one application. The Madrid system is currently valid in seventy countries. If your application is submitted within six months from the national application, you may claim priority right. This means that the international registration will take place on the date of the national application.
For professional advice concerning trademark protection in the broadest sense of the word, we recommend that you seek the help of a trademark agent
The Benelux Trademarks Office (BTO) is authorised to refuse a trademark on absolute grounds. The main grounds for refusal are as follows:
The sign lacks distinctive character. (For example, 'Tomatoes' cannot be used as a mark for tomato juice, and 'Travel services' is not a mark for selling travel products. These terms are purely descriptive names or designations of a product and service, and cannot be registered as marks. The public will not identify these signs as marks, but as designations of a product or service.)
- The sign is contrary to morality or the public order.
- The sign is misleading. (For example, a sign for vegetable-based margarine includes a picture of a cow.)
- The sign comprises flags, weapons and other emblems that are registered in accordance with article 6ter of the Paris Convention. Such marks may only be entered in the Benelux Register with the approval of the state or organisation concerned.
REFUSAL ON ABSOLUTE GROUNDS
The BTO is authorised to refuse trademarks on specific legal grounds. The 'sign' is not eligible for registration if:
- the mark has no distinctive character;
- the mark is contrary to morality or public order;
- the mark might mislead the public; or
the mark consists of a flag or an emblem protected by the Paris Convention.
When a Benelux application is registered, it is valid for a period of ten years. It can be renewed indefinitely, at the owner's request, for successive periods of ten years.
In order to file a trademark, you must complete the necessary form (form B) and send it to the Benelux Trademarks Office. You can file electronically using our online service BMBConnect. Of course forms can still be submitted by fax or by mail. The pdf-forms can be filled in with Acrobat Reader. The forms have to be signed and posted by mail or send by fax. E-mailed forms cannot be accepted.
If you submit a figurative mark by fax, you must also send the original illustrations by ordinary mail as soon as possible.
Application form must be completed either in Dutch or in French, as these are the official languages of the Office.
An application is admissible as soon as a number of formal requirements have been met. You must include the following details on your filing form (form B):
- the name and address of the applicant;
- the trademark itself;
- the goods and/or services involved;
whether you are applying for an individual mark or a collective mark (if collective, you must include regulations of use and control). The fixed application fees must be paid within one month.
- On receipt of your application, the date and time of receipt are indicated on the form, and you will receive confirmation of this. If your application satisfies a number of minimum requirements, including payment of the application fees within one month of submission, the protection will be effective from the date of filing.
- Your mark is protected from the day on which the completed application form is submitted to the BTO, provided that the formal and legal requirements have been met, including payment of the application fee, which must be made within one month of submission.
- The information you have stated on the form will be processed on our system, and your file will then be dealt with by one of our examiners.
- The examiner checks whether the application meets the minimum requirements, and allocates a date of filing.
- If you have submitted a figurative mark, the image will be classified in accordance with the international Vienna classification. This allows the visual element in our system to be compared with identical or similar visual elements.
- The indicated classification of goods and services is checked. This classification must comply with the requirements drawn up in the international Nice classification. The benefit of this is that the filing application is made in accordance with a single classification system, and a uniform set of definitions is secured in all the affiliated countries. Furthermore, given that the Nice Classification is available in different languages, the applicant can also derive additional benefit if protection is extended to other countries outside the Benelux region.
- The submitted mark is assessed on absolute grounds.
- The examiner checks whether the application satisfies all other administrative requirements.
A search into the word mark and/or figurative mark is conducted.
Yes, the BTO is open to the public from 10.00 a.m. to 12.00 midday and from 2.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. However, you should bear in mind that the BTO is closed on the official public holidays of the three Benelux countries.