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EUHL now a registered trade mark

On 12.22.2015 the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) registered the Community trade mark owned by the European University Hockey Association. For explanation of the registration process and the benefits associated with the registered trademark we have asked JUDr. Pavol Heger ( who represented the EUHA in front OHIM and was responsible for the successful registration of the trade mark.

Interview with legal attorney JUDr. Pavol Heger regarding the registration of EUHL (European University Hockey League) trademark

Could you please tell us few words regarding the EUHL trade mark registration from the legal perspective?

I will have to start with some legal terminology and definitions. Trademark (“TM”) is the product of creative intellectual activity and thus is included among the so-called industrial property (IP) rights. Trade mark can consist of any signs capable of being represented graphically mainly by words including personal names, letters, numerals, drawings, shapes of packaging or the package itself, or combination of all, however under condition that is possible to distinguish these goods or services from others. Recently also the registration of sounds and smells have been successful under the trademark law on the international level.

I will now briefly clarify the distinction between a trademark and a logo, which are sometimes being held for equivalents. The main distinguishing feature of trademark is that the mark or logo becomes the trademark at the time of the registration in the relevant register of trademarks either on national or transnational level. Logos are not subject to any entry in the official register, however without the official registration logos are not granted additional rights beyond the general legal protection.

Before the registration, the trademark can be called logo or brand name and it may refer to different goods and services as the registered trademarks do. However from the moment of entry in the register of trademarks such a sign or a mark becomes a trade mark with all the rights and obligations associated with this type of intellectual property rights. Moreover, each registered trademark can be a brand or a mark, but not every brand or mark can be a trade mark. Also, from the point of registration it is not allowed for other entities within the defined territorial scope of protection to use this mark without the approval of the trademark owner.

The unregistered marks also enjoy certain level of protection, however with the official registration of the mark the level of legal protection is improved and increased to much higher extend. The owner of registered trademark is in much better legal position in case of infringement suit, but please keep in mind that this explanation is very simplified and is only a fraction of the whole issue, which can be sometimes very complicated and complex.

In practice, what should the registration of the EUHL (European University Hockey League) trademark bring to European University Hockey Association (EUHA)?

In my opinion, there are two essential aspects – prestige and protection.

Regarding the prestige perspective, we have to go back to the main functions of the registered trademark, which are the distinctive, informational functions and the guarantee of quality. The label, packaging and the overall visual aspects mean a lot in today’s world. If we put for example before a sample of ordinary people several soft drinks and one of these soft drinks would be known mark and the rest would be their unlabeled variations or copies, it would not surprise anyone when the user would choose the known and labeled drink. The reason why the user would do so, wound not only be the quality of the drink but also the fact that the product is a known registered mark which contributes to the product identity and increases its value and prestige in the eyes of the final consumer. The customer can, based on the trademark, expect certain product features and quality. It is not uncommon in today’s world that the value of the trademark is higher than the tangible assets of the company.

If we apply these assumptions to EUHL and EUHL, it should be obvious that with the registration of the trade mark, the organization has a strong interest in building their own identity, to protect this identity and to create a way to distinguish itself from other sports events and leagues. Additionally, the goal is not only to secure a strong position in the sport industry but also in other areas of economy. The aim is that when people will look at the EUHL trademark, they should immediately associate it with all the positives the league and the organization is contributing to the society. The positive perception of the organization and its popularity is already now attracting more sponsors who are willing to contribute and help the organization with well established identity supported by the sport activities of all EUHL participants but also by the legal protection of this effort covered now by the registered trademark.

As already mentioned in the first part of the article, the registration of the trademark (EUHL) prohibits the third parties without the consent of the owner (EUHA) to use the trademark for goods and services for which the trademark was registered.

The territorial scope of that protection is based on the fact whether the trademark was registered on the national or international level. EUHL trademark was registered as a Community trade mark – CTM and the scope of the CTM protection covers the entire territory of the European Union. I will briefly explain here: the scope of protection under CTM protection prevents for example someone in Germany without the consent and knowledge of EUHA to come with a similar idea of a university league and to start labeling it EUHL or with slight modification and the label in Germany would give the impression it is connected to EUHL.

Further planned expansion and the development of EUHL will inevitably lead also to expansion of marketing and promotional activities. It is expected that over time, together with the strengthening of the identity, the demand for various sports products with EUHL name on it will simply grow as more fans will be interested in EUHL events and activities. With the entry of EUHL trademark in the register, the EUHA is securing itself against possible speculators who, without the EUHA knowledge could use the trademark for their own enrichment. The ideology and the main goal is to develop EUHL university hockey league, to promote education while maintaining healthy sport lifestyle, however fulfilling these ideas and reaching these goals must be financially supported and one of the possible revenue streams is expected to come from the sale of merchandising products protected by the trade mark.