11 March 2012

Where's the value in Europe Part 2‏

Like a good DJ, I do requests (received from my last blog). I will now explore the value of a trade mark registration based on the size of a country's economy.

Any of these comparisons can, of course, result in "lies, damned lies, and statistics". The parameters of this mini-study have been comparing a country's official fee for filing a trade mark application with its economic clout. The latter is harder to define but I've used a country's gross domestic product at purchasing power parity ("GDP (PPP)"). Some countries are relatively wealthy but with higher costs of living resulting in less purchasing power. To most brand holders, I would suggest PPP is important - whilst most want their brand to be an indispensable part of a consumer's life (e.g. Apple, Coca-Cola), most products are not absolute necessities so when money is tighter, people concentrate on essentials (although, of course, these can also be branded).

The cost of a trade mark application (in one class) divided by $billion GDP (PPP) based on International Monetary Fund data from 2011 would work out as follows for the EU:

European Union   €0.06
Spain   €0.08
United Kingdom   €0.09
France   €0.09
Germany   €0.10
Italy   €0.10
Benelux   €0.21
Poland   €0.36
Sweden   €0.45
Portugal   €0.47
Greece   €0.70
Czech Republic   €0.73
Romania   €0.76
Austria   €1.02
Finland   €1.08
Slovakia   €1.31
Ireland   €1.36
Hungary   €1.42
Denmark   €1.52
Lithuania   €2.28
Bulgaria   €3.23
Slovenia   €4.24
Cyprus   €4.32
Latvia   €5.17
Estonia   €6.88
Malta   €10.68

No surprise that the EU comes out on top, but what could be an interesting statistic is that the original six members (France, Germany (West Germany at the time), Italy and the three Benelux countries) plus the UK and Spain represent over 75% of the GDP (PPP) of the EU. Filing in these six jurisdictions separately costs just over a third more than filing a Community Trade Mark application. For sure, there could be some agent fees on top of these amounts but there is less chance of oppositions and should there be any they could be fought independently with no bearing on the other countries. This is clearly looking at things quite simplistically but it offers food for thought.

I have kept the figures at one class as I think this is relevant to all trade mark owners. The EU's "three classes for the price of one" approach is not a huge benefit to all and, in any case, it does seem there is some desire out there for them to change this as the Register becomes more crowded.

There is value in Europe, although the jurisdiction offering the best value compared to GDP (PPP) is China with a comparable figure of €0.01. The US also offers the same value if TEAS Plus can be used and India's figure sits at €0.02 and so is also cheaper.

Other key jurisdictions are as follows:

Japan   €0.11
Mexico   €0.11
Canada   €0.14
Brazil   €0.23
Russia   €0.28
Australia   €0.42

If we look at some other known expensive countries:

Saudi Arabia €1.62
Belarus €4.33
United Arab Emirates €5.59
Turkmenistan €8.30
Iceland €12.08
Uzbekistan €14.39

Bear a thought for tiny and remote Tuvalu - where its .tv domain name Registry makes a significant contribution to its GDP - where the comparable figure is €6756.76! We file trade mark applications directly with the Tuvaluan Trade Marks Office although, unlike its domain name counterpart, it does not receive too many applications.