Sunday, April 15, 2012

New trade mark system for Vanuatu

Sunset in Vanuatu
The Republic of Vanuatu is an island nation nestled in the South Pacific. Vanuatu has put in place a new trade mark registration system. The old system allowed an owner of a trade mark registration within the European Union to re-register that trade mark in Vanuatu. There has now been a change to a local registration system. Thanks to Lynell Tuffery Huria and Damian Broadley for this article.

The Trademarks Act 2003 (Vanuatu) came into force in Vanuatu on 8 February 2011 after its publication in the Official Gazette in Vanuatu.  No supporting regulations were passed to support that legislation, and until December 2011, the trade marks law in Vanuatu was unclear.

On 1 December 2011, a new Registrar was appointed and the new law became effective.  Since then, the Vanuatu Intellectual Property Office has been established within the Ministry of Trade, Tourism, and Industry, and more supporting regulations have been passed.  New filings and recordals are now being accepted at the new Ministry.

The new legislation transforms the trade mark registration system from a re-registration system (based on registrations achieved in any member state of the European Union) to a local registration system.

Some highlights of the new registration system are:

  • trade mark applications can also claim convention priority from convention countries declared by regulation.  A list of countries that fall within the definition of “convention country” is yet to be declared at this stage.
  • trade mark applications can cover multiple classes
  • applicants must have a local address for service
  • the Act introduces examination (absolute and relative) provisions, acceptance, opposition, and registration provisions
  • the grace period for renewals is three months.

The Act also confirms that all registrations achieved under the Registration of EU Trade Marks [Cap. 81] will still be considered valid registrations under the new Act.

Photo courtesy of author Arthur Chapman under Creative Commons licence.

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