Amended IP laws enter into force

 Several amended IP laws entered into force in Croatia on March 17 2009:
  • The Law on Patents;
  • The Law on Trademarks;
  • The Law on Industrial Designs;
  • The Law on Geographical Indications, Topographies and Semiconductors; and 
  • The Law on Administrative Fees.
The most important change introduced by the amended Law on Patents concerns the procedure for extension and validation of European patents under the London Agreement. According to Article 17 of the law, all European patents and extended European patents registered after May 1 2008 and published in the Official Gazette of the European Patent Office will be regulated by Article 65 of the European Patent Convention, regardless of whether they were granted following opposition and/or appeal proceedings.

The main changes introduced by the amended laws on trademarks and industrial designs concern:
  • absolute and relative grounds for refusal;
  • the continuation of proceedings;
  • international trademark/design registrations; and
  • Community trademarks/designs.
According to the amended Law on Trademarks, a trademark can be refused registration on absolute grounds if:
  • it is “devoid of any distinctive character”; or
  • there exists an earlier registered geographical indication or indication of origin for the corresponding term.
A trademark can be refused registration on relative grounds if:
  • a representative or agent has filed the application; and
  • an interested party alleges that the application has been filed in bad faith.
In addition, the amended laws on trademarks and industrial designs no longer allow interested parties to prevent the use of a Community trademark/design in Croatia by initiating court proceedings in cases where a trademark/industrial design could not be refused registration on absolute grounds.

Both amended laws provide for extensions to enable applicants or IP rights holders to re-establish their rights if they missed the applicable deadlines. A request for extension may be filed no later than two months after the party became aware of the missed deadline.

The amended Law on Industrial Designs also extends the deadline for submitting a response to the rejection of an international design registration from 60 days to four months of the official date of notification.

Anamarija Stancic Petrovic and Ivan Kos, SD Petosevic, Zagreb  

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