Trademark law protects your trademark (brand). If you want to set yourself apart from your competitors, you register your own trademark at a charge. After registration, other parties are not allowed to use your trademark. Your trademark is an intellectual property right (IP right). There are different types of trademarks, such as:
- word marks, such as your trade name
- pictorial marks, for instance logos
- shape marks
- colour marks
- sound marks
Conditions for registering a trademark
To be able to obtain trademark rights, you brand trademark must be distinctive enough. It is distinctive enough if consumers recognise that a product or service is yours, and not another company’s when they see the trademark.
You cannot obtain trademark rights for a descriptive brand. For example, if your bicycle brand name is the word ‘Bicycle’. The Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) must refuse your trademark application if they are descriptive or non-distinctive. Your application fee will not be refunded. You can object to the refusal in writing, within 6 months.
You should also check the trademark register to see if a trademark has already been registered. Other parties may object to your application (opposition). They can do so if, for example, your mark is identical or very similar to a mark that is already registered for the same products or services.
Registering your trademark in the Benelux
You can register your trademark with the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP). This offers you protection in the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg). You cannot register your trademark solely in the Netherlands, or Belgium, or Luxembourg. You retain trademark rights for the Benelux for 10 years, then you can renew your registration.
You have to pay a fee for registration and for renewal as well. If you fail to renew in time (no more than 6 months after the expiry date) a surcharge applies.
Trademark rights abroad (international trademark registration)
Do you want to protect your trademark outside the Benelux as well? For protection in 1 or more countries that are party to the Madrid System you can expand your protection internationally via BOIP or directly via WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). You must have a Benelux (or EU) trademark registration to apply for international trademark registration.
You retain your international trademark rights for 10 years, then you can renew your international trademark.
You can use the WIPO fee calculator to find out the costs.
If you want to register your trademark in a country that has not joined the Madrid System, you should apply to the trademark agency of that country. It is best to ask for help from a legal trademark adviser or lawyer.
Trademark rights for the entire EU
Do you want to obtain trademark rights for all EU countries at once? Then you can apply for EU trademark registration to the European Union Intellectual Property Office EUIPO.
Cost Calculator for the protection of Intellectual Property
You can calculate how much it costs to register a trademark in the Cost Calculator for Protection of Intellectual Property.