New Law on Geographical Indications in Serbia Explained

Apr 26 2010 - 12:33

In the last issue we reported that the new Law on Geographical Indications entered into force in Serbia on April 3, 2010, replacing the Law on Geographical Indications of the former State Union of Serbia and Montenegro of May 20, 2006.

An important novelty is the possibility to appeal IPO decisions before the government, which will decide in the second instance. The Administrative Court rules in the last instance. According to the previous law, the IPO’s first-instance administrative decisions were final and the parties could initiate only administrative disputes before the court. The interested parties are now entitled to file an appeal within 15 days from the date of receipt of the first instance IPO decision.

Both the new and the old law define appellation of origin as a “geographical name of a country, or locality, which serves to designate a product originating therein, the quality and characteristics of which are due exclusively or essentially to the geographical environment, including natural and human factors and production, processing and preparation of which take place in the defined geographical area”. Nevertheless, the new law allows that certain geographical designations are treated as appellations of origin in case the raw materials for the products in question come from a geographical area larger than or different from the processing area, provided that: the production area of the raw materials is defined, the special conditions for the production of the raw materials exist and the inspection arrangements are made to ensure that the special conditions for the production of the raw materials have been met.

The old law requested that the production, processing and preparation should take place in a defined geographical area only for the appellations of origin, while the new law prescribes this condition for both the appellations of origin and the geographical indications.

Concerning the names that cannot be protected as indications of geographical origin, the new law adds special condition with respect to the names of registered plant varieties and animal breeds. Namely, these names cannot be protected as the indications of geographical origin in cases where such protection may cause confusion on the market. In addition, the new law prescribes that an indication of geographical origin cannot be used to protect a name that is identical or confusingly similar to a prior trademark registration, in case there is risk of creating confusion on the market, taking into the account the reputation and the period of use of such trademark registration.

The new law prescribes that the registered user, or the applicant seeking the recognition of the status of the registered user for agricultural products and foodstuffs, is entitled to file an application for registration of a Community Indication of Geographical Origin under the relevant EU regulations.

The Community application is also (apart from the grounds also foreseen by the old law: procedure before the Court/Customs/Inspectorate Authorities; international application) considered as a ground for examination of the national base application in an expedited procedure.

The new law explicitly prescribes that the provisions concerning substantive examination procedure do not apply to the procedure concerning the applications filed under the Lisbon Agreement (international applications).

According to the new Law, preliminary injunction can be filed before the lawsuit, provided that the lawsuit is filed within 30 days from the date the court issues the decision on the preliminary injunction. The former law prescribed a shorter deadline of 15 days.

For more information, please contact Predrag Anokic at our Balkan Regional Office.

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