Tunisian Trademarks Law plays a crucial role in protecting trademarks, both domestic and foreign, within Tunisia. The law, initially established as Law No. 2001-36 on April 17, 2001, and subsequently amended by Law No. 2007-50 on July 23, 2007, provides a comprehensive framework for the registration, ownership, opposition, and enforcement of trademarks in the country. Foreign marks are also afforded protection under international conventions and treaties ratified by Tunisia.
Key aspects of the Tunisian Trademarks Law include:
- Definition: Provision 2 of the law defines a trademark or service mark as a visible sign that distinguishes goods or services offered by a natural or legal person. This sign can take various forms, including words, symbols, drawings, shapes, colors, sounds, and combinations thereof.
- Ownership: According to Provision 6, trademark ownership is acquired through registration. Registration grants the owner an exclusive right to use the trademark and provides protection against infringement. The initial registration is valid for ten years and can be renewed indefinitely.
- Opposition: Provision 11 allows for opposition to a trademark application by several parties, including owners of previously registered marks, well-known marks, and exclusive license holders. The opposition should be submitted to the Tunisian Trademarks office within two months of the application's publication date, following the procedures specified in Decree No. 2015-303.
- Rights Conferred: Provision 21 specifies that a registered trademark confers the right to use the mark in connection with the goods or services listed in the registration. Unauthorized reproduction, usage, placement, alteration, or deletion of a registered mark is prohibited. Similarly, the use of counterfeit marks or marks likely to cause confusion without the owner's consent is also prohibited.
- Transfer of Rights: Provision 26 mandates that any assignment or change of rights associated with a Tunisian Trademark Registration must be recorded in the National Trademarks Register to be effective against third parties. Written documentation is necessary for such transfers; otherwise, they are considered null and void.
- Loss of Rights: Provision 34 stipulates that the rights associated with a trademark registration may lapse if the mark is not seriously used for at least five consecutive years on any of the goods or services listed in the registration, without a valid excuse.
Overall, the Tunisian Trademarks Law provides a robust legal framework to safeguard trademarks and their owners' rights. It establishes clear guidelines for registration, ownership, opposition, and enforcement, ensuring effective protection of both national and foreign marks in Tunisia.