Trademark opposition proceedings in Tunisia provide an administrative procedure for third parties, particularly owners of prior trademark rights, to object to the registration of a new trademark. This procedure is a cost-effective alternative to taking the matter to court, which is why it is incorporated within the trademark registration procedures.
The proceedings for trademark opposition in Tunisia involve the following steps:
- Formal Examination: A trademark application goes through a formal examination stage to ensure compliance with requirements. Once this stage is completed, the application is published in the Trademark Gazette.
- Opposition Filing: Third parties who wish to oppose the trademark registration have a window of 60 days from the publication date to file their opposition. This period allows them to present their objections.
Grounds for Opposition:
The opposing party must demonstrate prior trademark rights on the opposed trademark. If they fail to prove these rights, the opposition will be rejected. Various grounds can be raised for trademark opposition in Tunisia, including:
- Similarity or identity with an earlier or existing registered trademark.
- Lack of distinctive character.
- Descriptive nature of the trademark.
- Customary usage in the current language or established business practices.
- Potential to deceive the public or cause confusion.
- Contravention of the law or legal restrictions.
- Inclusion of elements likely to offend religious sentiments.
Filing the Opposition Notice:
To initiate trademark opposition proceedings, the opposing party must file a notice of trademark opposition within the specified 60-day period. The notice should be in writing, follow the prescribed format, and include the following information:
- Details and evidence of the opposing party's prior trademark rights on the opposed trademark.
- Details of the opposed trademark.
- Grounds for the trademark opposition.
Once the opposition notice is filed, the Trademark office serves a copy to the trademark applicant. Within 60 days of receiving the opposition copy, the trademark applicant must file a counter statement. Failure to do so within the prescribed period will result in the trademark application being considered "abandoned."
The Trademark office provides a copy of the counter statement to the opposing party and arranges a conciliation hearing between the two parties. This hearing should take place within eight months from the submission of the counter statement. Based on the evidence presented, the Trademark office will form an opinion on the trademark application and opposition.
If an amicable settlement cannot be reached, the opposing party has two months (60 days) from the conciliation hearing date to file an opposition with the competent court. The registration process will be suspended until a final judgment is made.
If the opposing party fails to bring the opposition to the court within the specified period, the opposed trademark will be registered on the National Trademarks Register.
For additional information on trademark-related matters in Tunisia, such as trademark searches, cancellations, assignments, licensing, renewals, international registration, infringement, due diligence, protection, watching services, portfolio management, and customs seizure proceedings, you can refer to the respective resources.