Albania Amends Industrial Property Law
Amendments to the Albanian Industrial Property Law, introducing new provisions regarding trade secrets, trademarks and the Internal Market Inspectorate, entered into force on August 22, 2021.
The most significant change is the transposition of Directive (EU) 2016/943 on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure.
Trade secrets were previously regulated by the Law on Entrepreneurs and Companies and the Labor Code and their subject matter was defined in broader terms. Now, under the amended IP law, a trade secret is defined as undisclosed expert knowledge, experience or business information that is not generally known or easily accessible, that has a certain market value, and for which sufficient measures have been taken to keep it a secret.
Apart from defining trade secrets, the amended law sets the rules for their lawful and unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure, and the rules for maintaining their confidentiality during and after court proceedings. The law also provides trade secret holders with a number of measures to be used in the event of trade secret misappropriation, including compensatory damages.
Internal Market Inspectorate
The amendments to the IP law also define the role and duties of the Internal Market Inspectorate (IMI), the main responsibility of which is to ensure the safety of non-food consumer products by instigating internal market inspections. The IMI’s role in enforcing IP rights was previously not defined at all.
Under the amended law, right holders can file formal requests before the IMI for the seizure of goods infringing their registered IP rights once they become aware of such goods on the market. The request should contain information on the infringer or information on the points of sale of infringing goods. The IMI also has the right to act ex officio.
The law also sets deadlines for acting before the IMI or before competent courts if the goods are seized by the IMI and the parties fail to reach an agreement. In this case, if the right holder fails to take the matter to court, the seized goods will be released.
The amendments also clarify that the costs associated with the destruction of goods seized by the IMI are borne by the rights holder.
The amended law now also includes the definitions for “counterfeit goods”, “pirated goods” and “goods suspected of infringing industrial property rights”.
Under the amendments, a trademark registration may be divided into two or more registrations; previously, it was only possible to divide a trademark application.
Finally, the Albanian Intellectual Property Office will now reject a trademark application during substantive examination if the mark’s dominant element is considered non distinctive, even if the applicant requests a disclaimer of such an element. This was previously not expressly defined in the law.
Prepared by: Melina Nika and Pinelopi Voko
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Source: Albanian Intellectual Property Office
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