In the society we live in today, one of the most important and most valuable assets at a company is its trade mark. The trade mark does not just help the consumer to recognise the company behind a product or service, it also plays an essential role in building a brand. The design of a product, that’s the outward appearance, can also win instant recognition and can, therefore, be of similar importance to a company. That’s why it’s so important to register trade marks and designs. Having your registered trade mark will allow you to stop others from registering similar trade marks while trying to get a free ride on your trade mark’s good reputation. And, of course, having a registered right will allow you to put up a fight against pirate copies. Counterfeiting is a worldwide phenomenon that has been increasing recently. When you manage to create a strong and important product on the Community market it’s usually copied We’ve been copied in the past by products of much lower quality which seriously damage the image of our trade mark. That was something which did us a lot of harm because nurturing a trade mark supposes a lot of effort so that’s associated with quality and design. It’s very easy to copy But we resolved the issue satisfactorily and quickly because the designs were registered. With the creation of the internal market of the European Union, a new way of protecting trade marks and designs was established. Now trade marks and designs can also be registered all over the EU through one single application. The European Union Intellectual Property Office or EUIPO, is the EU Agency in charge of registering the European Union trade mark and the Community design. Both important tools for companies and individuals wanting protection in the EU internal market. For us the Community trade mark was absolutely the ideal and for really three reasons. The first think was, it’s very very quick to apply for. You can actually do that online, and, secondly, you do it once and it covers you across all the different EU territories which is fantastic. And the third thing is that it’s very cost-effective because it avoids us having to take out trade marks in each of the European countries. Most of the top brands in the world have their trade mark registered in the EUIPO. But, in fact, the vast majority of new European trade mark owners are small or medium enterprises This is not surprising, since more than 99% of all European businesses are SMEs. which therefore play a crucial role in the development of Europe’s economy. Of course companies outside the European Union also use the single registration facility to protect their trade marks and designs in the internal market. In fact, since 1996 hundreds of thousands of individuals and companies, both within and outside the EU, have taken the opportunity to apply for more than one million EU trade marks and around half a million Community designs were also registered. It’s up to the trade mark or design owner to choose the registration option that best fits his or her IP or business strategy. Either you go for national protection or you can go for EU-wide protection through one single registration. Indeed, some companies choose both options in parallel. National and EU registrations can also be applied for using the international registration systems administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland. But there is still work to be done to improve the system further for the benefit of its users. EUIPO therefore works closely with all of the IP offices in the European Union in order to streamline the procedures, harmonise practices and create common tools. All with the intention of creating a common European trade mark and design network by 2015.