Montenegro's Separation from Serbia, Recent Developments in Kosovo: How Are Your Intellectual Property Rights Affected?
The former Yugoslav republic of Montenegro declared independence on Saturday when its parliament adopted the May 21st national referendum decision to end its union with Serbia.
Negotiations between Serbia and Montenegro on how to disentangle the two states, including the laws and court systems, are expected to begin shortly.
The separation of the union will have significant effects on IP owners’ rights. Currently, Montenegro does not have its own Patent and Trademark Office or its own intellectual property laws. New legislation in Montenegro is likely to closely resemble the relevant Serbian laws. Based on the experience following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia into 5 countries, we anticipate a six to twelve month period of time for IP owners to revalidate rights registered under the old union in Montenegro. In the meantime, joint government agencies, such as the Patent and Trademark Office in Serbia, will operate under the same rules and regulations as before the independence declaration.
Kosovo, an enclave in Serbia with an Albanian majority, is presently jointly governed by Provisional Institutions of Self-Government and the UN Interim Administrative Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The future of the province is set to be determined by the end of 2006.
A comprehensive legal framework for the self-government for Kosovo was established on May 15, 2001. Since 2001, new laws have been promulgated to replace some of the laws of Serbia, including some laws on intellectual property rights. The amendments to the law on patents, which would allow the Ministry of Trade to establish a Patent and Trademark Office, are presently being reviewed by the Office of the Prime Minister and are expected to be approved shortly. In addition, the promulgation of a trademark law is expected in the near future. Once a Patent and Trademark Office is established in Kosovo it will likely be necessary to revalidate the existing IP rights. Like in Montenegro, we anticipate that there will be a six to twelve month time frame within which an IP owner can revalidate their existing IP rights registered under the old union.
Although the situation in both Montenegro and Kosovo is in flux, the enforcement of intellectual property rights is possible with the use of good strategy and timely action.