What is a trademark

A trademark is a word, name, symbol or device which is used in trade with goods to distinguish them from the goods of others.
All new signs that can be represented graphically can be registered as trademark, especially words, including personal names, drawings, letters, numbers, sounds, the shape of products or of packageof products, chromatic combinations and tones, as long as they can distinguish the products or services of a specific company from other companies.

Trademarks are registered for one or more classes in relation to the products and services to be distinguished. In case of conflict, the owner of a trademarks with earlier registration has a priority right against those who register and/or use an identical trademark or a trademark that can be confused with the earlier trademark.

In order to be in conflict two trademarks must be registered and/or used in relation to the same goods. Based on this principle the law admits the amiably coexistence of trademarks that designate different goods even if they are totally similar.
International registration and Community registration

Two procedures can be used for the cumulative registration of a trademark in multiple countries: the Community Trademark procedure and the Madrid System for International Trademarks.
Community Trademarks are exclusive unitary instruments that are simultaneously effective in all European Union State Members.

The procedure requires a single application and a single examination as registrability, which are dealt with by the Community Office of Alicante (Spain). Once the Community Office has granted the trademark registration, the granting is published on the Official Gazette. Within the next three months, third parties can object the registration.

In case of no oppositions, or if the oppositions are rejected by the Community Office, the trademark becomes effective on the entire Community territory.
Community registration is advantageous because of easier bureaucratic formalities from application to registration. It must be noted that, although declared in a single country of the European Union, forfeiture or decadence or nullity of Community trademarks is automatically extended to all the other Community countries and the owner is definitely and irremediably deprived of his exclusive rights on the entire Community territory.

The Madrid System, that is the system used to obtain an International Trademark, is composed of two parts: the  Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol.
Within the scope of the Madrid Agreement, international applications can be filed upon payment of a fixed fee, while the Madrid Protocol requires the payment of a national fee that differs from country to country.

The same application allows to extend national trademarks both to signatory countries of the Madrid Agreement and signatory countries of the Madrid Protocol. Unlike the provisions of the Community legislation, cumulative international registrations according to the Madrid System result in multiple national trademarks, each of them subjected to examination according to the procedures in force in the different countries. Once granted, each registration has an independent legal life from the other "sister" trademarks.

In view of the above, forfeiture or nullity of a national trademark does not mpair the efficacy and validity of "sister" trademarks, which will survive to it.
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