Mrs Justice Fidelma Macken of Ireland's Supreme Court this week attacked the confusion over what constitutes genuine use of a Community trade mark.
Macken was giving the annual Hugh Laddie Lecture at University College London's Institute of Brand and Innovation Law (IBIL) on the topic "Killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg: Too Many Trademarks?" on Wednesday.
She said that the difficulty of challenging marks on the basis of non-use after five years has led to overcrowding of the register.
She rejected OHIM's argument that many marks are not renewed, saying that the 10-year renewal period is too long for many businesses and they will seek alternative marks rather than challenge existing ones.
Macken also argued that competition law should only be used to restrict IP rights if they are being abused.
Macken's paper will be published on the IBIL website. A more detailed report of her talk will be on managingip.com next week.