Implementation of Trademarks Ordinance put on hold

Hong Kong

The implementation of the new Trademarks Ordinance has been delayed. The set-back is due to a request by trademark law practitioners that the Legislative Council Panel on Commerce and Industry review the ordinance's rule that decisions by the Trademark Registry be appealed within nine months.

The ordinance was passed in May 2000. It was not implemented at that time, however, because the Trademark Registry's computer system needed to be overhauled. Nevertheless, it was expected that the ordinance would come into force on January 1 2003.

Late last year, many trademark law practitioners voiced concerns that Rule 13 of the ordinance, which limits the time to appeal decisions by the registry to nine months from the date the examination report is issued, is too rigid. Although the registry maintains that it would be flexible in setting hearing dates, the rule's opponents want it changed to explicitly provide for such flexibility.

As a result, the Legislative Council Panel on Commerce and Industry began reviewing the rule last month. The panel's decision regarding Rule 13 will then be put before the Legislative Council, or a subcommittee thereof. This legislative process is likely to take at least two months to complete. Thus, the ordinance is not likely to be implemented until March at the very earliest.

For discussion of some of the major changes to be introduced by the ordinance, see Hong Kong introduces new Trademarks Ordinance.

Sandra Gibbons, Lovells, Hong Kong

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