Hungary Amends Trademark Act
On January 1, 2023, Act LV amending several industrial property laws, including the Trademark Act, entered into force in Hungary. Act LV aims to fine-tune and amend certain aspects of various procedures before the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO). The amendments are the result of the HIPO’s practical experience and their main goal is to harmonize IP laws with Hungarian procedural legislation, including the Law on Civil Procedure and the Law on General Administrative Procedure. The main amendments to the Hungarian Trademark Act are outlined below.
Deadline extensions that can be obtained during trademark proceedings before the HIPO have been limited to a minimum of one month and a maximum of three months. Multiple extensions lasting between one and three months and a special six-month extension may be requested and granted only in particularly justified cases. The goal of this amendment is to curtail unnecessary delays by restricting the extension period and repeated or longer extensions.
If an adversarial trademark proceeding involves several adverse parties, the proceeding can only be suspended upon a joint request by the parties. The proceeding may only be suspended once, for a maximum period of six months (after which the proceeding is terminated), and may be resumed upon request of any of the parties.
The amendments allow licensees who are not recorded in the trademark register to file an opposition against a trademark application. The previous text of the law granted this right only to licensees recorded in the trademark register.
The filed oppositions should now include not only the legal grounds on which they are based, but also detailed reasoning and supporting evidence. The goal is to reduce the practice of filing unsubstantiated oppositions within the non-extendable opposition deadline and then subsequently filing detailed reasoning and evidence. However, the wording of the amendment is not clear – on the one hand, it indicates that detailed reasoning should be filed at the time of filing the opposition, but on the other hand, it suggests that the HIPO will ask the opponent to rectify the irregularities if the opposition does not comply with the requirements. The HIPO’s practice in future opposition cases will determine the applicability of the amendment, but for now it is recommended to file oppositions along with detailed reasoning within the opposition deadline.
Under the amendments, if neither party requests the continuation of the suspended opposition proceeding before the expiration of the relevant deadline, the HIPO will consider the opposition withdrawn and will resume the trademark registration procedure.
Under the amendments, not only the holder of an earlier right, but also the licensee of an earlier right and even an unregistered user of an earlier geographical indication can file a cancellation action based on relative grounds for refusal.
The amendments also introduce the possibility of postponing the hearing in cancellation proceedings – the parties can jointly request a postponement subject to certain restrictions (e.g. no later than three days before the hearing; the reasoning or justification should be given) and the HIPO can also postpone the hearing in case of exceptional circumstances.
Under the amendments, an accelerated cancellation action can be requested if the trademark infringement court case has not only been initiated (as was previously required) but if the court action is still ongoing at the time of filing the cancellation action, or if it is proven not only that the preliminary injunction request has been submitted to the court (as previously required) but also that the preliminary injunction has not yet been refused. Basically, an accelerated cancellation action can be requested only if an infringement action or a preliminary injunction is still ongoing at the time of filing the accelerated action.
Prepared by: Zita Szilágyi
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Source: The Hungarian Gazette website