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Trade Marks Directive

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Title: Trade Marks Directive  
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Trade Marks Directive

Council Directive No. 89/104/EEC (Repealed by EU Directive 2008/95/EC), to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks, was introduced into European Union law on 21 December 1988. Its provisions were required to be introduced into national law by 29 December 1991. On this date the Directive therefore became law with direct effect in each of the member states of the European Union.


The Directive is intended to approximate laws of the Member States of the European Union that relate to trade marks. The Directive was designed to harmonize disparities in the respective trade mark laws that had the potential to impede the free movement of goods and provision of services and distort competition within the European Union.

The Directive provided a framework of minimum provisions applicable throughout the European Union but did not seek to impose onerous obligations on national trade mark registries. For example, the Directive did not stipulate how member states should deal with the registration, revocation and invalidity of trade marks. These elements were left to the national bodies' discretion.

Grounds for refusal or invalidity

The Directive stipulates that signs cannot be registered if they are:

  • Devoid of distinctive character
  • Indicate the kind, quality, or other characteristic of the goods or services they represent
  • Are customary signs in the trade
  • Contrary to public policy
  • Deceitful

External links

  • Text of directive with headers (html)
  • Text of the directive (pdf)

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