Belarus Amends Law on Geographical Indications
The amended law on geographical indications entered into force in Belarus on August 29, 2020, revising the definition of a geographical indication and specifying the procedure for obtaining GI protection in more detail.
Under the amended law, a geographical indication is defined as a designation which identifies the goods as originating from a certain geographical area if the quality, reputation or other characteristics of such goods can be essentially attributed to their geographical origin.
Under the previous law, the definition of a geographical indication consisted of two parts – the ‘name of place of origin of goods’ (registered with the intellectual property office) and the ‘indicator of the origin of goods’ (not registered, but acquired protection through use). The new version of the law amends this somewhat confusing GI definition by excluding the term ‘indicator of the origin of goods’.
Legal protection of a GI is granted on the basis of its registration with the IPO. Applicants can be any natural and/or legal persons or associations of persons the establishment and activities of which do not contradict the laws of the state in which they are established, and which, according to these laws, are participants in civil law relations. The right to use a GI may be granted to several persons separately or jointly to designate goods they produced in a certain geographical area. GIs identifying goods as originating from a geographical area located in a foreign state can be registered in Belarus if they are registered as a GI in their country of origin.
Under the amended law, non-residents now must be represented by Belarusian patent and trademark attorneys when applying for a GI, unless otherwise provided for in international treaties. Under the previous law, the applicant could decide whether to apply personally or through a Belarusian attorney.
The amended law describes the procedure for obtaining GI protection in more detail. GI applications will go through the following stages:
- Preliminary examination (within three months from the date the IPO receives a confirmation of payment of the official fee, like in the previous law);
- Substantive examination (within one year from the date of the decision to accept the application for consideration; this term was not defined in the previous law).
The grounds for refusal remain the designation’s non-compliance with the established GI requirements or the designation’s ability to mislead consumers about the place of production (origin) of goods and/or their special properties, quality, reputation or other characteristics.
If the application is approved, the IPO will enter the GI into the State Register of Geographical Indications within one month after receiving the confirmation of the official fee payment, and it will also make an entry in the Register on granting the right to use the GI. A certificate on the right to use the GI will be issued within one month from the date the information is entered into the Register.
The certificates previously issued for the right to use a ‘name of place of origin of goods’ will continue to be valid and will gradually be replaced by certificates for the right to use a GI. The new certificates will be provided free of charge at the request of the right holder at the moment of extension of the validity term of the certificate or at any time before its expiration.
Prepared by: Anastasia Khioni
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Source: Belarusian legal information portal ILEX
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