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“How do 21st-Century trademarks create value?” conference
"How do 21st-Century trademarks create value?" conference

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Trademarks in the Basque Country, a reflection of the economic recovery and its business transformation

  • In the last five years, the number of trademarks registered in the Basque Country grew by 25%, reaching 3,157 by the end of 2018. It is worth mentioning that the activities related to catering and accommodation (class 43) had an increase in trademark requests by 83% during the first half of 2019
  • Speakers such as Mikel Madariaga, director of APD (Northern sector), Nuria Marcos, PONS IP Managing Director, and Inmaculada Redondo, Deputy Director of the SPTO Distinguishing Signs Department, among others, were featured at the event
  • One of the main issues addressed by the conference is the entry into force of the new Trademark Law, implemented in early 2019

Bilbao, September 19th. The activities organized by the Association for Progress in Management (APD) are back after the summer, with the conference on brand creation, value, and protection, which was held at the APD headquarters, in collaboration with the companies PONS IP and PKF Attest. According to the data offered by the SPTO during the conference, the number of trademarks registered in the Basque Country grew by 25% from 2013, up to 3,157 by the end of 2018, especially in industries related to services, trade, and administrative activities.

The ceremony began with a welcome message shared by APD’s Northern Sector Director, Mikel Madariaga, and a speech from Pons IP’s Managing Director, Nuria Marcos, who mentioned the new included in the reform of the Trademark Law that came into force in 2019 as “a breakthrough in the protection and legitimacy of trademark owners”. Some experts on the field who also participated in the event where: Juan Basterra, Financial Consultant at PKF Attest, Carmen González, Trademark Manager at PONS IP, and Inmaculada Redondo, Deputy Director of the Distinguishing Signs Department at the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (SPTO).

During the meeting, the SPTO representative, Inmaculada Redondo, presented an overview on the evolution of the registered trademarks volume in the Basque Country over the last six years. According to data from the Office, since 2013 – when 2,530 trademarks were registered – the number of requests in the Basque Country has grown by 25% in the last five years, reaching 3,157 by the end of 2018; the best figure since the economic recovery began. However, trademark requests, traditionally considered as a leading indicator through which economic activity could be assessed, showed a slight decrease of 1.4% during the first half of 2019, compared to the previous semester, with 1,100 trademarks filed in the Spanish Office. 

It should be noted that, during the first half of 2019, activities related to catering and accommodation (class 43) have grown, with an 83% increase in trademark requests, reaching 115 registered trademarks. On the other hand, the year-on-year growth for class 9 trademarks, which includes products such as scientific devices and instruments, automatic distributors, computers, and measuring equipment, was of 11% between January and June 2018; reaching 102 requests registered with the SPTO this year. In any event, the greatest activity corresponded to class-35 trademarks that are related to the advertising services, business management, and regular office work fields, for which 268 trademarks were registered between June 2018 and 2019.

Vizcaya leads services and trade; Álava, the wine industry

The data provided by the SPTO show, by province, the significant presence and economic transformation of the region towards industries such as services, advertising, commercial activity, administrative work, wholesale or retail and online commerce in both Vizcaya and Gipuzkoa where, respectively, 1,993 and 1,129 class 35 trademarks were registered since 2012. According to official data, this is the leading economic activity in both provinces and in the Basque Country.

The second most active industry in the autonomous region corresponded to class 41 -related to education and training activities, entertainment, sports and cultural activities, among others-, with 1,648 registered trademarks in Vizcaya, followed by 1129 in Gipuzkoa linked to this industry.  However, between 2012 and 2018, class 33 -corresponding to alcoholic beverages- has virtually doubled class 45 -services and retail-, with 467 new registrations in the last six years.

Between 2012 and 2018, the two classes for which the most trademarks have been applied to in Gipuzkoa are: Class 35 (advertising, commercial business management, office work, commercial administration, or wholesale, retail and telematic sales, among others), 1129 trademarks, in class 41) 946. In Biscay, 1993 registrations in class 35 and 1648 in class 41, while in Áraba/Álava, the top 1 is in class 33, related to alcoholic beverages with 801, and, in second position, class 35 with 467.

Keys to understanding the new Trademark Law

The Trademark Law reform is one of the themes that has supported the different presentations. Some of the most significant changes are as follows:

  • The adaptation of the new law to European regulations.
  • The possibility of registering sounds, movements, and holograms.
  • The change in terminology from notorious trademarks to renowned trademarks, antipiracy measures, such as the possibility trademarks have to prevent the entry of equal or virtually identical trademarks.
  • Greater protection for designations of origin and protected geographical indications.

Inmaculada Redondo, Deputy Director of the Distinguishing Signs Department of SPTO, explained the changes included in the new Law: “Although it is still too early to make a quantitative assessment of the trademark law reform impact in Spain, the transposition of the trademark directive enables the registration of trademarks to be adapted to the technological advances in our society and in our companies in relation to their distinguishing signs. As for the SPTO, its new competences in nullity and expiration conflict resolution will predictably enable a reduction in litigation, increased resolution speed, as well as lower costs for companies and for their holders regarding asset protection‘.

PONS IP Trademark Manager, Carmen González, pointed out that the new regulations “represent an opportunity for companies in the Basque Country to make an effort to audit their trademark portfolio in order to verify whether their distinguishing signs are actually well protected with the new Trademark Law, as well as whether they are really being used properly. It is important for companies to understand that applying for trademark protection is not only a process, since laying the foundations for good legal protection today guarantees peace of mind about potential future infringements in case that trademark succeeds in the market”.

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