European Union: 欧洲商标法改革综述

继马克斯-普朗克知识产权与竞争法研究所发表《关于欧洲商标体系总体功能的研究》及欧盟委员会采纳其建议后,欧洲议会于2015年12月批准了对于欧洲商标法的一揽子改革案。

这是自1996年引入欧共体商标以来欧洲商标法最重要的一次改革。改革载于2016年3月23日生效的《欧盟商标条例》(2015/2424)(the "EUTMR")及2016年1月13日生效的《欧盟商标指令》(2015/2436)(the "EUTMD"),且该等改革必须在2019年1月14日前转化为欧盟成员国的国内法。

本评论重点关注因《欧盟商标条例》和《欧盟商标指令》引起的欧洲商标制度的重大变化,这些变化,我们认为与我们的客户和朋友最密切相关。

新术语

所有"欧共体"的表述改为"欧盟",这意味着"欧共体商标"现在被称为"欧盟商标"。"内部市场协调局"也将更名为"欧盟知识产权局"(《欧盟商标条例》第一条)。

收紧商标申请规则

非图形表示。商标不再需要满足图形表示的要求(《欧盟商标条例》第4条,《欧盟商标指令》第3条)。相反,在新的制度下,商标必须记载在登记簿中,并且"以主管机关和公众可以清楚和准确地判断给予保护的主题的方式呈现"。《欧盟商标条例》和《欧盟商标指令》的前言进一步说明应允许商标以任何恰当的形式及使用一般可行的技术呈现,只要该等呈现是"清楚的、准确的、自成一体的、容易获得的、明了的、持久的且客观的"。

这在欧洲商标法是一项重大的改变且可能使注册非传统商标(如声音或颜色)更加简单。这一改变也标志着欧盟商标法为了适应这个技术不断发展的世界的需求迈出了可喜的一步。

商品和服务的名称和分类。《欧盟商标条例》和《欧盟商标指令》将欧盟法院在知识产权翻译员案件(C-307/10)中关于《尼斯分类》分类标题的结论纳入其中(《欧盟商标条例》第28条和《欧盟商标指令》第39条)。在新的制度下,商标所有人需要足够清楚和准确的确认申请针对的商品和服务,以使保护范围可以简单的确定。尽管《尼斯分类》的类别标题在其指示足够清楚和准确的情形下可以使用,但该注册的指定商品/服务仅包括类别标题字面上所体现的商品/服务。

在2012年6月22日之前申请的欧盟商标的所有人将有权在《欧盟商标条例》生效的六个月内提交声明,明确所申请商标覆盖的商品和服务(除类别标题字面体现的商品/服务)。额外的商品和服务必须是在申请时已纳入《尼斯分类》中的。在该日期以前申请商标的商标所有人应因此审查其商标,以确保所有必要的商品和服务项目都包含在其商标注册中。

众达目前正就其管理的"欧盟商标"实施审查程序,并会及时将可行的方案告知众达的客户。

绝对性驳回理由。驳回商标注册申请的绝对性理由(即不能通过已取得显著性的证据来反驳的理由)已延伸至仅包含"形状或其他特征的"(重点为笔者所注)标识。这种"形状或其他特征"来自于商品的自然属性,同时也是获得某种技术成果或为商品带来实质性价值所必须的。(《欧盟商标条例》第4(9)条,《欧盟商标指令》第4(1)(e)条)。"或其他特征的"字眼扩大了这一绝对性驳回理由的外延,这与非传统标识诸如气味标识的申请直接相关。这其中的基本理念是为了避免对产品内在的或全部是功能性的特点或特征给予商标保护。

新法中还增加了新的绝对性驳回的理由,包括原产地证明、地理标志、酒类的传统术语、传统特产或植物品种(《欧盟商标条例》第4(9)条,《欧盟商标指令》第4(1)条)。

异议程序的变化

提异议的截至日期。对指定欧盟的国际申请提异议的期限改变了。之前是自国际公告日六个月后的三个月以内。现在是自国际公告日一个月后的三个月以内。这将大大加快异议程序的速度。

需要变更商标在商业使用前宽限期的计算。新法下,相关的五年期限是参考较早起始点计算的。它不再从在后商标的公告日起算,而是从它的申请之日或优先权之日起算(《欧盟商标条例》第42 (2)条,《欧盟商标指令》第44 (1)条)。这种变化是缘于商标局加速审理程序,这个程序导致了商标的在线数据库中申请日远早于公告日。

提高协调性

商标撤销可以在成员国商标局进行。目前,涉及国家商标的无效程序可在以下地方发起:(i)某些成员国的国家商标局或管辖法院(比如德国和英国)和(ii)仅在有管辖权的法院(比如法国)。根据《欧盟商标指令》,所有的成员国必须设立"快速有效的商标撤销或宣告无效的行政程序"(《欧盟商标指令》第45条)。成员国(比如法国)现在必须对本国商标实施行政撤销制度。这无疑将提高欧盟范围内国家商标撤销程序的成本和时间效率。

避免商标成为通用名称。《欧盟商标条例》确认了欧盟商标所有人可以通过字典中的信息(比如字典的词条)证明某字可以作为商标注册的能力。该规定是防止欧盟商标通用名称化的有效的工具。《欧盟商标指令》第12条扩大了该规定,将国家商标包含在内。这项新的规定应该很受商标所有人的欢迎。

表达的自由。商标法中纳入的《欧盟商标条例》前言第21条称"第三方出于艺术表达目的的使用商标行为应该被认为是公平的,只要他们同时遵照了工商事务中的诚实惯例"。这符合欧盟内部知识产权法改革的精神。也为所有成员国提供了法律依据,从而确保商标法在保证所有基本权利和自由,特别是艺术表达自由的方式下得以实施。

提高反侵权的工具

过境商品。商标所有人现在将能阻止第三方在交易过程中将商品(包括包装)带入欧盟,即使那些商品并非为欧盟内部自由流通而释放的(《欧盟商标条例》第9(4)条,《欧盟商标指令》第10(4)条)。这些商品必须贴有与所有人商标一致,或在实质方面不能与所有人注册商标相区分的标识。根据以前的规则,只有欲在欧盟内流通的商品能构成侵权。但根据新规则,仅通过欧盟或在欧盟内运输或储藏的商品(包括暂时储藏、转运和仓储)也将构成侵权。

这项改变无疑将受到商标所有人的欢迎,特别是对时尚业和制药业来说,假冒在这两个行业是非常严重的问题。新规则对非在欧盟流通的商品也予以规范的做法将使欧洲港口在打击全球假冒中发挥更重要的作用。但是需重点注意的是,如果商品所有人能证明商标所有人无权阻止商品在其最终目的地的国家市场上市的话,则阻止过境商品的权利将会失效。

预备行动。为侵权采取的预备行动在新法下是侵权的,特别是在包装、标牌、标签、安全特征或真实特征或设备中贴上类似的或相同的标识,而这些包装等将有可能被用于可能侵犯他人商标权的商品或服务上(《欧盟商标条例》第9a条,《欧盟商标指令》第 11条)。商标所有人也将能阻止他人提供、在市场放置、存储、进口或出口任何上述涉嫌侵权的包装材料。这项发展对商标所有人来说将会是个不错的消息,因为它将通过阻止粘贴涉嫌商标侵权的标识而在较早阶段加强其保护商标的能力。

"自己名字"的抗辩。对"自己名字"的抗辩新法中有所限制,只有自然人能凭借其自己使用的名字或地址进行抗辩(《欧盟商标条例》第12(1)(a)条,《欧盟商标指令》第14(1)(a)条)。公司不能再凭此进行抗辩,这也因此增加了公司在早期提交相关商标申请的重要性。

更公平的费用结构

费用结构的改变旨在鼓励申请人仅对必要类别注册欧盟商标。新费用将为每次申请单一类别为850欧元,两个类别为900欧元,每增加一类就增加150欧元。因而,如果申请人仅申请一个类别,他们将会支付比以前较低的费用;如果他们申请两个类别,则收取相同费用;申请三个或以上类别,则收取更高费用。续展费如今大大降低,现在与申请费相同。

这些相对较低费用将受到所有企业的欢迎,特别是对之前受数额阻碍的中小企业来说。

结论

很明显,一揽子改革构成了欧盟内部商标法的重大变化,这些改变寻求使欧盟商标法适应科技不断发展的世界的需求。申请规则的改变意味着更多种类的标识现在有可能得到注册,这对商标所有人和申请人来说将会是项不错的发展。商标所有人的权利也同样加强了,特别是侵权条款更为宽泛了,这些改变很有可能将进一步帮助商标所有人更有效地打击侵权产品。

就欧盟商标法的这些改革,未来几年欧盟法院判例法将如何发展,我们将会拭目以待。

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Authors
Indradeep Bhattacharya
 
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