The EUIPO- its significance and Alicante?


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Chris Excell, Head of IP & Patents writing on the EUIPO.

The surreal time we are in promotes both a chance to reflect and refocus on matters that are important to us. As such, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the EUIPO and how it has got to be so significant in the intellectual property world. Also, why Alicante?

The EUIPO, then known as the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) was one of six agencies set up under the 1993 Treaty on the European Union (the Maastricht Treaty being founded in 1994).

It was somewhat surprising when it was announced, that the OHIM, would be headquartered in Alicante, Spain. Especially as the European patent office was based in an arguably more business centric location in Munich. The proximity of the German Patent Office at the time and the Deutsches Museum (German Museum) created a “technology triangle”.

One could argue that it would have made more sense for the OHIM to replicate this launch in either the same country, or a more fertile place for businesses?

It took only two years for the surprise to go away.

In April 1996, the first community trade marks were received, these were in vast quantities that surpassed even the most confident projections. In the first month alone, nearly 22,000 trade mark applications were sent to the office. Original predictions had been for 15,000 in the first full year.  In effect, the Office had received more trade mark applications in its first few days of activity than had been anticipated for its first eighteen months.

Interestingly, by the end of 1996, 46,700 trade mark applications had been received. As well as confirming the success of the new EU trade mark system as a valuable tool for business both inside and outside the Union, this also meant that the income the Office earned from fees had surpassed its outgoings, and that the new agency was now fully financially self-sustaining.

As you can deduce, the demand for the new trademark offering was there, and the amount of applications exceeded every expectation. It wasn’t reliant on where the EUIPO was based. So whilst Alicante did seem a surprise choice at first, it turned out to be a master stroke. The EUIPO never intended to choose a location purely on a market/industry hotbed. It was actually concentrating on consolidating itself as an IP office with global reach, confirming the vision of its founding fathers as it became both a motor and a reflection of the EU’s Internal Market. This is why the location didn’t actually matter.

The model used has been replicated by many business today (not just across the legal sector) and has created one, focused international offering. Additionally the vision of being fully sustainable, alongside the technology available to complete the trademark filing process entirely online, has seen the EUIPO evolve into a place that is an eco-friendly (solar panels and wind turbines help provide electricity, rain water is recycled and energy consumption has been significantly lowered) exciting, selfless community. The EUIPO’s  significance goes beyond the intellectual property world. It represents choice and freedoms.

Chris is a Senior Consultant at Fides Search and is Head of IP and Patents. To find out more get in touch with Chris:

Mobile: +44 (0) 7407 895 518 |Direct Dial:+44 (0) 20 3642 1873 | [email protected]