Amendments of the Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property as of 1 March 2019

The 1st of March 2019 marks the entry into force of the amended Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property. Being considered as a cornerstone in the harmonisation of trademark law at European level (cf. Directive 2015/2436 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to trademarks), the amendments aim at modernizing and simplifying procedures.

Some of the most important changes pave the way for:

  • the registration of non-graphical trademarks such as sound marks;
  • listing the goods and services covered by a trademark in a clear and precise way;
  • an extension of grounds for opposition and cancellation procedures; and
  • a system for registration of certification marks to name only a few.

Although the focus of the amended Convention clearly lies on the strengthening of the rights of trademark owners, some limitations and defense mechanism have as well been enshrined such as the possibilities for action against the use of a trademark in comparative advertising and measures against counterfeit goods in transit. Moreover, the possibilities for the defendant to request proof of genuine use are extended. Owners of collective trademarks may, during a transitional period, transform their trademarks into certification marks, if applicable.

Marie-Christine SIMON

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