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Croatia to join European Union in July 2013

By Sarah Chatterley.

On 1 July 2013 the European Union will expand as another member joins. With Croatias accession the EU will total 28 members. This is good news for Community Trade Mark and Community Design Right applicants and registration owners as their rights will automatically include Croatia. Transitional measures have been in place since December 2012.


Current EU members have joined at various points during the life of the EU and the arrangements for Croatia’s accession are no different from those previously put in place. However, there are aspects which will impact on the owners of current and future IP rights, such as:

  • Existing CTM (community trade mark) or CDR (community design registration) registrations and applications filed or claiming priority before 1 July 2013 will be extended automatically to Croatia at 0.00 hours on 1 July 2013 and the CTM/CDR will then have equal effect in Croatia
  • All CTM or CDR applications filed on or after 1 July 2013 will cover all 28 jurisdictions. From this point it will be possible to raise absolute grounds of objection at the CTM Examination stage or raise objections against a CTM based on relative grounds by filing an opposition (where they apply), or invalidate a CDR based on rights in Croatia
  • All CTM and CDR applications filed between 1 January 2013 and 30 June 2013 may be subject to opposition and invalidity proceedings, respectively, based on earlier Croatian national rights; if such an action is successful the CTM or CDR will fail in all 28 EU Member States
  • These grandfather rights also apply post-registration whereby the extended CTM or CDR may only be revoked or invalidated on the basis of a ground that was valid before 1 July 2013 and cannot be revoked or invalidated on the basis of grounds which become applicable merely as a result of Croatia’s accession

What you should consider

  • If you are thinking about filing a CTM or CDR  application, consider whether it would be vulnerable to attack by national rights holders in Croatia and if there is any doubt, file the application before 31 December 2012 to avoid the possibility of an opposition or invalidity action by Croatian national right holders
  • Holders of a national right in Croatia should be aware that an extended CTM/CDR  owned by another may create a conflict with those existing rights after Croatia has acceded to the EU. It may be prudent to monitor the CTM Register to identify any potential conflicts
  • Brand owners who already hold CTMs and/or CDRs who now wish to use their mark or design in Croatia should consider conducting local searches to uncover any earlier national rights which could prevent their extended CTM/CDR from being used in Croatia
  • Once Croatia has joined it will be possible to claim seniority from Croatian national rights thereby reducing future renewal fees by having the national right “embraced” by the CTM
  • There will be implications for EU Customs notices currently used to prevent against cross-border trade in infringing goods. Further information on this aspect should be investigated.

Talk to trade mark attorneys, like Coulson & Rule, for more information about what checks you should make, and how you can protect your trade mark. Please contact us on 01788 547389 if you would like more details on the above. We would be happy to talk this through with you.


This news item may contain information of general interest about current legal issues, but does not contain legal advice.


This news item may contain information of general interest about current legal issues, but does not contain legal advice.