To obtain documents that are not directly accessible from the register, you need to fill in and submit the request form. Requests may also be submitted by sending a letter, fax or e-mail in any language of the European Union.
The right to public access to documents concerning administrative documents of the Office is laid down in:
- Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents.
- Decision No CA-03-22 of the Administrative Board of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal market (Trade Marks and Designs) of 24 November 2003 on the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to documents.
- Regulation (EU) No 2017/1001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2017 on European Union trade mark, and in particular Article on transparency.
The Registers of EU trade marks and of Community designs are publicly available on the Office website. If you wish to request inspection of files relating to EU trade mark or Community design applications, you can do so through this link.
Q&A on the right of public access to documents
1. What is the right of public access to EU documents?
Article 15 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that citizens and residents of the European Union have a right of access to the documents of Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, whatever their medium. The right of access to documents is an essential component of the transparency policy being implemented by the European institutions.
To give effect to this right, the Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EU) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. This Regulation applies to the Office by virtue of Article 149 of Regulation (EU) 2017/0001 of the European Parliament and of the Council on European Union trade mark,
Therefore, the Office will grant access to requested documents, unless one of the exceptions for specific circumstances set out in European law applies (see question 6).
2. Who can make a request for public access to documents?
Based on the provisions of Regulation (EC) 1049/2001, any citizen of the Union, or any natural or legal person residing or having their registered office in a Member State, has a right of access to documents of the Office, whatever the medium, subject to the principles and conditions defined therein. In accordance with Article 1(2) of Decision No CA-03-22 of the Administrative Board of the Office, citizens of third countries not residing in a Member State and legal persons not having their registered office in one of the Member States shall enjoy the right of access to Office documents on the same terms. The Office can ask for your contact details for the purpose of processing your request for access.
3. To what can the public request access?
Pursuant to definitions laid down in Regulation (EC) 1049/2001,The term ‘document’ means any content whatever its medium (written on paper or stored in electronic form or as a sound, visual or audiovisual recording) concerning a matter relating to the policies, activities and decisions falling within the Office’s sphere of responsibility. According to Regulation 1049/2001, the Office is required to keep a register of documents it holds.
Applicants can request access to documents that they know to exist. In addition, they can also request access to any documents held by an institution related to a specific, defined matter, without knowing the exact description of the documents in question. The applicant is not obliged to state reasons for the application.
While there is no limit to the amount of documents which can be requested, according to Regulation 1049/2001, the Office may refuse to deal with a request for very long documents or a very large number of documents. However, in such cases, the Office should first try to reach a fair solution with the applicant.
4. In what languages can a request be made and documents received?
Applicants can make a request for access to documents in any of the 24 official languages of the EU. Where the Office grants access to a document, it discloses the document in the language(s) in which it exists, but is under no obligation to translate the document.
5. What is the procedure and timeline for requesting access to documents?
Applicants must request access to documents in writing. For this reason, the Office put in place an online form for requesting EUIPO administrative documents available on its public website.
On receiving an initial request, the Office should acknowledge the receipt. Pursuant to Regulation (EU) 1049/2001, the Office is required to respond within 15 working days from registration of the request, unless it requires further clarification by the applicant. For complicated or large requests, the Office may extend the deadline by additional 15 working days, provided that the applicant is notified in advance and that detailed reasons are given.
If the Office refuses, totally or partially, access to a request, by invoking one of the exceptions under Regulation (EU) 1049/2001 (see question 6), the applicant may ask to review its decision by making a so-called ‘confirmatory application’. The same timeline applies as to the initial request.
If the Office maintains its decision to refuse access (or does not reply within the applicable time frame), the applicant may turn to the European Ombudsman or the EU Courts (see question 7).
6. Under what circumstances can access be refused by the Office?
Article 4 of Regulation (EU) 1049/2001 sets out certain exceptions under which the Office may refuse access to documents. Those exceptions can be invoked in situations where disclosure of a document would undermine, amongst others:
- the public interest in certain sensitive areas (such as public security, international relations, the financial, monetary or economic policy of the EU or Member States);
- the privacy of individuals (consistent with the applicable EU data protection law).
To withhold access, the Office must demonstrate that there is no overriding public interest that would justify disclosing the documents, where disclosure of a document would undermine:
- commercial interests of a natural or legal person, including intellectual property,
- court proceedings and legal advice,
- the purpose of inspections, investigations and audits,
- the institution's decision-making process, in case of documents relating to a matter where the decision has not been taken by the Office, and in case of documents containing opinions for internal use as part of deliberations and preliminary consultations.
7. What to do when an access request is refused?
Applicants may submit a complaint to the European Ombudsman if the Office has rejected, totally or partially, their request following a review (a confirmatory decision) or fails to reply within the applicable time frame.
Applicants may also take a case to the EU Courts if the Office has rejected, in full or in part, their request following a review.
8. Are documents that were disclosed following an access to documents request published?
The fact that the Office must disclose a document to an applicant does not mean that the institution has a duty to publish the document proactively. However, the Office has a duty to make documents available directly to the greatest extent possible, for example by making them available on its website and through the public register of documents.
Individuals who are granted access to documents may publish the documents, except where the Office indicates that restrictions are necessary, for example if the document is covered by copyright or other intellectual property rights, or when it contains personal data of third persons.