This article discusses the regulation and protection of trademarks in Cyprus.
What is a Trademark?
A Trademark is an Intellectual Property Right that includes logos, signs, shapes, symbols, graphics, names or letters which identifies the products or services rendered by a company and differentiates them from the products or services of the company’s competitors. It plays an important role in the values of a business as it has the legal power to protect its goodwill and reputation. It also provides the company with the exclusive right to use the Trademark.
The Trademarks in Cyprus are regulated by the Trademark Law (Cap.268), and the EU Directive 2015/2436. On an international level, the Trademarks are protected by the Paris Convention, WIPO, the Madrid Agreement, the Madrid Protocol, the Trademark Law Treaty and all the other regulatory bodies to which Cyprus is a member. As such, a Trademark can be registered nationally, in the European Union and internationally.
Generally, and according to the Law, a person infringes the rights of the Trademark if he uses a sign which is identical to the Trademark and he provides similar goods or services; if the sign is similar to the Trademark and he provides identical goods or services; and where the likelihood of confusion exists between the two Trademarks.
Registered or Unregistered Trademarks?
A Trademark can be registered or unregistered, however, when it is registered it is then a fact, and there is no need to prove goodwill. The advantages of a registered Trademark are many, among them, the protection of the business’ goodwill and reputation, the investment in brand, the incentive to improve the quality of their goods or services, the enforcement of business ethics, the protection of the consumers from deception, and more.
The Cypriot Law provides that no person infringes intellectual property rights if he copies an unregistered Trademark, however, this does not affect the proprietor’s rights to an action in passing-off and to claim damages.
When dealing with unregistered Trademarks, passing-off happens when someone deliberately or unintentionally passes off his products or services as those of another person, and the main purpose of the tort is to protect the proprietor’s commercial goodwill and reputation.
Three elements must exist to prove passing-off: i) there must be goodwill, ii) a misrepresentation likely to deceive consumers, and iii) damages.
Registration of Trademarks in Cyprus
The Law provides that only a licenced practicing lawyer can register a Trademark in Cyprus. The registration can be made electronically or by filing the appropriate forms accompanied with a Power of Attorney, to the Office of the Registrar of Companies.
Before filing the application, a Trademark search can be carried out, to avoid similarities with other Trademarks already registered. This process is not compulsory but recommended, and it lasts three weeks.
The Registrar, upon receipt of the application, publishes the Trademark in the Official Gazette of Cyprus for a period of two months, to give an opportunity to people with reasonable grounds to object. When no objection is filed, the Trademark is officially and successfully registered, and the Registrar issues a Certificate of registration, together with a copy of the Trademark. If there is an objection, then the process may be longer and is often followed by a Court hearing or Arbitration, between two or more opposing parties.
The Registrar in order to grant and issue a Certificate of registration, the Trademark has to fulfil three requirements:
- No resemblance to any other registered Trademarks;
- Must not be deceptive to the public.
Trademarks in Cyprus are registered for 7 years from the date of the first application; however, their renewal lasts for 14 years, and they can be renewed indefinitely.
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