The Markenrechtmodernisierungsgesetz (MaMog), i.e. the Trademark Law Modernization Act, entered into effect in Germany on January 14, 2019, introducing a number of changes to trademark law.

The MaMog brings German trademark law into line with the EU Directive. We at the commercial law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte note that this is part of the process of continuing to harmonize trademark law within the European Union and designed to bolster the rights of trademark proprietors.

Despite not turning German trademark law on its head when it came into force, the MaMog has introduced several changes, among the most significant of which is that trademarks are no longer required to be capable of being displayed graphically. Signs can now be displayed in any appropriate form using technology that is in the public domain, e.g. with audio or image files. This will in turn lead to new forms of presentation, with it now being possible to register trademarks for sounds, motion/movement marks, holograms and multimedia marks.

Another major innovation is the introduction of the certification mark to German trademark law. It has been possible to obtain an EU trademark for this since as early as 2017. A certification mark affords trademark protection to quality seals and test marks, such as those concerned with safety standards, organic production or fair trade. In the case of certification marks, it is not their function as an indicator of origin but rather as a guarantee that takes center stage. They need to be capable of guaranteeing certain characteristics of goods or services as well as distinguishing them from products for which no such guarantee exists. The trademark proprietors must be neutral and are not allowed to personally offer the goods they have certified.

The MaMoG also introduces new absolute grounds for refusal to German trademark law. Protected geographical indications and protected designations of origin must now be considered as absolute grounds for refusal. This particularly applies with respect to food items, wine and spirits.

Another new element is that it is possible to apply for licenses to be entered into the register. The holder of an exclusive license can then personally file lawsuits in response to trademark violations if the proprietor of the trademark fails to bring a legal action within a reasonable period of time after having been formally requested to do so.

Lawyers with experience in the field of IP law can advise on the changes to trademark law.