This week, a visitor to the website of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) will find that both, the functionalities and the design of the website have undergone drastic changes. The OHIM published in a press release some background information on the changes.
The most important information in the press release (which is only available in English language) may be summarized as follows:
“OHIM ́s new website brings a new online look and feel to the Office. The site has been developed in collaboration with users, who have tested its functionalities and provided valuable feedback through the development process.
Over the past months, testing and development on the website have reached a peak. The site now includes several new functionalities which will make the filing process more user-friendly.
The changes of practice are described in the Manual of Trade Mark Practice, which, among others, implements the Common Communication on the Common Practice on the General Indications of the Nice Class Headings, published on 20 November 2013; that entered into force on the date of the go-live of the new website. (…)
The new user area replaces My Page and is a completely secure platform that lets the user monitor the lifecycle of a trade mark or design. It is possible to edit personal details, subscribe to our news feeds, set alerts for renewal or watch other CTMs, and much more. (…)
In addition, the new e-filing wizard will allow non-specialised users to file in five steps, using any of 23 EU languages. The application can be saved at any time during the process. (…)
The new e-filing will also introduce other fresh navigation features, including taxonomy, an intuitive, market-oriented way of classifying Goods and Services, based on the Nice Classification.
It also presents a complete revamp of its navigation system, aimed at specialist and non-specialist users.”
On December 3, 2013, the average loading time of the website from Germany was more than half a minute. Moreover, we found several error loading pages while trying to load subpages. We recommend testing the new website once the teething problems are fixed at the OHIM.
Update 1 (Dec. 6, 2013): When we tried to download an OHIM official communication using the secure customer area (formerly: myPage, the service was apparently renamed), we received an official communication addressed to a different law firm and in an unrelated case. With the second download the correct communication was provided.
Apparently, there are some more problems to be solved with the new OHIM website.
Update 2 (Dec. 6, 2013): We have been informed by another law firm in Munich that e-filing was not possible for at least some hours during the last week. Since a priority date had to be met, the trademark application was finally filed using the classical facsimile transmission.
For this form of filing a higher initial filing fee of 1.050 EUR applies for trademark applications claiming not more than 3 classes (Nice classification). We are now wondering if the “involuntary additional fees” will be reimbursed by the OHIM. The OHIM can hardly burden the applicant with additional fees, if the applicant chose this form of filing only because of an interruption of operation of the OHIM’s electronic infrastructure.
Update 3 (Dec. 10, 2013): Today, the new OHIM website was apparently down. E-filing of trademarks or designs at the OHIM was not possible. The following error page was displayed:
We hope that the technical problems will be resolved by the OHIM in a timely manner, so that electronic filing of trademarks and designs will again be possible in Europe.
Update 4 (Dec. 18, 2013): According to an official announcement of the OHIM of today, all CTM applications that were filed between October 2, 2013 to October 18, 2013 will enjoy the same fee reduction as granted to any electronically filed application, irrespective from the filing method which was actually used. A screenshot of the announcement published on the OHIM webpage is depicted below:
Update 5 (Dec. 18, 2013): Today, our paralegal filed several CTM applications with German as the language of the proceedings. She was quite surprized to find out that capital letters of some goods (in German language, nouns typically start with a capital letter) were automatically replaced by small letters in the request form and the filing confirmation. She was sure that in the input mask the correct spelling of the words had been used.
We called the telephone hotline of the OHIM and were told that other users experienced similar problems. Until the technical problems were resolved, a request for correction of the list of goods and services should be filed as a standard procedure for any electronically transmitted CTM applications written in German language.
It appears to be advisable for the time being to double check the request form and confirmation letter of the OHIM for any errors and immediately complain, if errors are found.
Update 6 (Dec. 28, 2013): It appears that the OHIM corrects the artifacts / errors in the list of goods and services on its own motion and a request for correction is generally not necessary. However, we think that it is rather scary that the official filing confirmation contains artifacts which are somehow (manually?) corrected by the office without a request of the applicant.
Update 7 (July 1, 2014): The technical problems with the OHIM website are apparently not yet fixed. When we tried today to respond to an official communication in our user area, we received the following error message:
Since technical support was not available at the time, we turned to the classical communication channels (i.e. facsimile transmission) in order to meet the time limit for filing the response.