The correct answer is “yes”, but the more practical and useful answer is “no”. There are circumstances where you are able to make very small changes, but they are extremely limited.

Sometimes when a company files a trademark, they decide that the mark for which protection is wanted is a little bit different than the mark that was identified in the application. Usually, the change is relatively minor, such as changing a singular form to plural form or vice-versa, or making a compound word from two distinct words or vice-versa. Even for these types of very minor changes, alteration is typically not possible.

Alterations to applications

The general rule is that once the application is filed, no alterations can be made to the mark. The only scenario where the mark can be changed after the application is where the error is an obvious mistake and the amendment does not substantially change the mark as filed.

Recently, the EUIPO accepted the change of filed mark TOPFLOW to TOP FLOW. In this case, it was accepted that this was an obvious mistake because the applicant could show that it had registered the mark as TOP FLOW in other countries (and claimed priority from another filing of TOP FLOW). Also, the change was small enough, because phonetically the marks were still identical and the visual difference was very small. In order to be able to make this kind of amendment, the applicant must be able to show that an obvious error took place. A mere change of mind is not a sufficient reason for amending the mark.

Even if you can show that you mistakenly filed the mark incorrectly, the alteration must not substantially change the mark. This is a very strict requirement. For example, the EUIPO has rejected changing the applied trademark from RANIER to RAINIER because they are two different words. The change was considered to alter the mark substantially.

It is only in extremely limited circumstances where alterations are acceptable. An example would be if the applicant could show that he mistakenly used American spelling instead of British spelling (e.g. the mark contained the word “Analyze” rather than “Analyse”). 

Alterations to registrations

Once the mark is registered, the possibilities to make amendments to the mark are even more limited. The only alteration that is acceptable is where the mark contains the applicant’s name or address, the alteration concerns that element (name or address), and the alteration does not substantially affect the identity of the trademark as originally registered. One example of such a scenario is where the registered trademark is a logo containing the domain name of the owner (for example, owner.com). If the domain name is only a subordinate element in the overall appearance of the mark, it would be possible to make a small change to the domain address (for example, change it to owner.co). If the mark is a word mark, it is very rare that changes are accepted. The EUIPO has refused to change SLITONE ULTRA to SLITONEULTRA and CHATEAU DE LA TOUR SAINT-ANNE to CHATEAU DE LA TOUR SAINTE-ANNE. 

Conclusion

When filing a trademark, you need to be very careful so that you file the trademark exactly as you want it to be. In most cases, it is impossible to make changes to the mark after the application is filed, and even less so after it has been registered. The general rule that no alteration can be made to the mark after the application is filed holds true in almost all cases. The exceptions to the rule are extremely rare and limited.