Business owners in the Netherlands may want to register their trademarks to increase the value of their company and benefit from international protection. Trademark registration in the Netherlands can be made either through the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property or through the World Intellectual property Organization.
Our law firm in the Netherlands offers complete legal solutions to companies and our attorneys who specialize in the trademark legislation (that applies according to the Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property) can offer you legal and practical guidance.
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Trademark registration in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is part of the Benelux countries (comprising Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) and trademark registration can be made only for the Benelux area (only available for the three countries). The Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) deals with trademarks and designs registrations in the Benelux and it is based in The Hague, Netherlands.
|Types of trademarks
|Word, shape, colour, sound, pictorial marks
Multiple class application
Pre-application trademark availability verification
|Language of the trademark application
Dutch and French
|Minimum filing requirements
|– name and address of the applicant;
– legal form of the company;
– the application class, the goods and services the trademark will cover;
– type of mark, distinguishing features, etc.;
– the applicant’s signature.
|Mandatory trademark representation
|Trademark registration fee in the Netherlands
From EUR 244 per class for registration with the Benelux Trademarks Register
|Time to complete the trademark registration in the Netherlands (approx.)
|Trademark application through local representative
|Yes, possible with the help of our team in the Netherlands
|Power of attorney requirements
|Trademark registration in the Netherlands can be performed by a party appointed via a power of attorney
|Trademark renewal conditions
|Six months before the expiration date or six months after this date
Renewals are valid for 10 year periods, can be performed indefinitely
|Conditions to revoke the trademark in the Netherlands
|Failure to use the trademark within a prescribed time
|Assistance for trademark registration in the Netherlands
|Complete assistance for the registration of chosen trademarks, patents or designs from our team
An international trademark registration can be made at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The international trademark registration is governed by the Madrid Agreement and The Madrid Protocol. The Madrid Union is composed of the States that took part in the Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol. A total of 92 countries, including the Netherlands, benefit from the Madrid system for trademarks and service marks protection. An international trademark registration can prove more advantageous when compared to national registrations.
Most companies incorporated in the Netherlands will also need to register for VAT in the Netherlands. There is no mandatory registration threshold for this purpose, meaning that all companies that engage in VAT-taxable transactions are required to register with the Tax and Customs Administration. For new companies, this can take place as soon as they are incorporated. Our team can give you more details.
What is a distinctive trademark?
When interested in trademark registration in Netherlands, investors must first comply with the requirement to select a distinctive trademark for their company. How is this defined and what should one avoid? Below we offer some general guidelines that can help clarify the issue of distinctiveness:
- Description: the trademark should not describe the product or service literally; for example, “milk” cannot be the trade name or logo for a company that produces and bottles milk;
- Misleading: the trademark is not allowed to mislead the customers, such as using one symbol or word to describe something different or another category of goods (an image of chocolate is misleading for a nutritive supplement);
- Emblem: the trademark cannot include flags, official emblems or armed forces bearings; for example, including all parts of the Dutch flag;
- Protected items: the sign cannot be a trademark if it is the same as a protected denomination for a plant or a protected geographical indication as well as a protected traditional term for certain goods such as wine.
If a trademark is declared unsuitable (on the grounds described above or as rules by a court of law) then its registration is null and void.
Entrepreneurs should note that trademark registration in Netherlands is largely guided by two principles: the trademark should not be descriptive and it should not lack distinctive character. Our lawyers, upon request, can further explain these important grounds.
What are the types of trademarks?
According to the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP), there are several types of trademarks:
- Word marks: these are based on words and they are the name under which certain goods or products are marketed;
- Figurative mark: this is the pure figurative one, the logo or label with no text and the one with word elements that is protected as a whole, for all of its elements (the words are not registered separately);
- Color and sound mark: as the name suggests, they are based on colors (or combinations of colors) or sounds (a distinctive jingle, for example);
- Pattern mark: this is a set of elements that are repeated in a pattern;
- Shape mark: the case of a product can be a mark, such as in the case of uniquely designed perfume bottles;
- Others: position and motion marls as well as hologram marks; a multimedia mark can also be recognized and it is a combination of image and sound.
All of these possibilities allow those who are interested in trademark registration in Netherlands to uniquely define the elements or the combinations that will be specific to their business.
What’s more, marks can be individual or collective. The first type is used by a single company and it differentiates its products from those of other businesses (most trademarks fall under this category) or they can be collective, used by the members of an association.
Researching before trademark registration
Our attorneys in Netherlands advise researching the availability of your desired trademark before using it, in order to avoid getting into complicated legal situations. This means to ensure that your trademark in Netherlands is unique and not already registered by someone else.
The BOIP Trademarks Register is a specific database where you can search for trademarks. You can input the name and/or logo of your trademark and see if there are any matches or variations of your proposed trademark.
You can also research by checking the Trade Register, which contains information about companies and legal entities engaged in economic activities. If you plan to do business outside the Benelux, you must also check if the trademark is registered in the registers of other countries.
Sometimes, trademarks may be actively used but not registered in official databases. Therefore, it’s important to conduct searches to ensure there are no similar trademarks being used within your industry. Our Dutch lawyers can help you with trademark registration in Netherlands and provide expert guidance throughout the entire process.
What is the general procedure for trademark registration in Netherlands?
When registering a Dutch trademark at the Benelux Office of Intellectual Property, individuals must file an application before the Benelux Office and wait for an examination that will determine the distinctiveness of the mark. After these formalities, the application is published in the Benelux Bulletin (available online) to check for oppositions. After the mark has been published, the oppositions (if any), can be filed within a period of two months. Trademark registration in the Benelux has a validity period of 10 years. It can be subsequently renewed for another 10 years.
The Madrid system of international trademark registration can be used by natural persons or legal entities. They must file an application for international registration. The application must contain an identical reproduction of the mark and a list of the goods and services that require protection. This registration remains valid for 10 years and it can be renewed further for periods of 10 years.
Entrepreneurs who are interested in trademark registration in Netherlands should know that a number of fees apply for basic registrations as well as for any other modifications or for renewals. Some of these are the following:
- From 244€: the Benelux 10 year trademark application registration;
- From 440€: the accelerated registration for the Benelux 10 year trademark registration;
- From 263€: the 10-year trademark registration renewal fee.
The values listed above are the starting prices for each of the described action. The fees are VAT exempt.
Other fees related to trademark registration in Netherlands can include the following:
- 24€: for changing the appointment of a representative for the first trademark (12€ for the second to the fifth trademark);
- 20€: for typing mistake corrections after registration, for the first trademark; a 10€ fee applies for each subsequent trademark;
- 263€: the renewal fee for an individual trademark via BOIP (an online process that includes one class).
Fees also apply for filing an opposition to a trademark (lodging an objection). The fee per opposition is 1,045 € and other additional costs can apply (such as the translation of the arguments for the opposition). Please note that these fees were valid at the time this article was published.
Trademark refusal in Netherlands
A trademark registration in Netherlands might be refused if it is overly descriptive or lacks a distinctive character. This is because trademarks need to differentiate a company’s products or services from others in the marketplace.
A trademark is considered descriptive when it consists of a word or image that directly describes the product or service, its characteristics, or promotes them. For example, a trademark application for bicycles must not use the name “Bicycle” or an image of a bicycle. Abbreviations can also be considered descriptive if they convey a common meaning related to the product or service. For instance, “medi” for something in the medical field can be considered descriptive and will not be accepted. Our lawyers in Netherlands can provide more examples of descriptive trademarks if you are interested.
Moreover, if a trademark lacks distinctive character, the average consumer cannot identify it as originating from a specific company. Attempts to add figurative elements, colors, shapes, or other features to such trademarks may not always be sufficient to make them distinctive. Here are some examples of a trademark registration in Netherlands that lacks distinctive characters:
- Colors, like the color green for biological food products;
- Slogans, such as “We are the best” for services;
- Shapes, such as the simple shape of a wine bottle;
- Figures, like a simple hexagonal outline around a word.
Trademark applications can be refused for other various reasons, including if the mark is deceptive or features flags, official emblems, or symbols without permission from relevant authorities.
In order to successfully register your trademark, our law firm in Netherlands will assist you throughout the entire registration process. This involves checking if your chosen trademark follows the legal regulations, and handling all the paperwork needed to make it official. If you’re unfamiliar with the trademark registration process, you can have our lawyers handle it for you, using a power of attorney.
Statistics about trademark registration in Netherlands
Examining the trademark registration statistics in the Netherlands provides some valuable insights into the trends, preferences, and overall dynamics of intellectual property protection within the country. Here are some statistics about trademark registration in Netherlands in the year 2021:
- There has been a 5.0% increase in the number of trademark applications filed by applicants residing in the Netherlands compared to 2020;
- In total, there were 609,125 applications filed in 2021;
- 54,406 trademark applications were filed by residents of the Netherlands;
- 554,719 applications were filed by entities outside the Netherlands;
- 1,674 applications were Madrid International Applications.
If you want to open a Dutch company, our law firm in the Netherlands can offer you more information about the intellectual property law. We can also help you with the VAT Registration in Netherlands to ensure legal compliance and simplify your tax responsibilities.