Law on Collective Marks enacted by Congress
The Argentine Congress has enacted the Law on Collective Marks (26.355). Under the new law, registration is available only to organizations of manufacturers and/or service suppliers which are registered with the Registry of Local Development and Social Economy Agents (RLDSEA). These organizations are formed by unemployed and socially vulnerable citizens.
The new law has been heavily criticized by IP professionals and trade organizations on the grounds that:
- the benefits afforded by the new law contravene the Constitution; and
- implementation of the new law will increase the workload of the Trademark Office.
When applying to the RLDSEA, an organization must provide, among other things:
- general information on membership of the organization;
- the rules governing the use of the collective mark; and
- the requirements that must be met by the members of the organization in order to obtain authorization to use the mark.
The new law applies the general principles contained in the Trademark Law with regard to the definition of a 'trademark' and the criteria for registration of trademarks.
The main features of the new law are as follows:
- Applications for the registration of a collective mark shall cover all international classes. Applicants will be exempted from paying official registration fees.
- Oppositions by third parties must be filed on a class-by-class basis. Opponents will pay double the official fee.
- The Trademark Office must issue a decision on the merits of the opposition within six months of the date on which the opposition has been served on the applicant. The decision of the office may be appealed before the courts.
- In order to renew the registration of a collective mark, the mark must have been in use during the five-year period preceding the renewal application. Non-use during this period renders the registration vulnerable to cancellation.
- A collective mark registered under the new law may be cancelled on the same grounds as other trademarks (eg, the applicant knew or ought to have known that the mark was owned by a third party).
It remains to be seen how the new system will work in practice and whether it will fulfill the objectives of the legislature.
Fernando Noetinger, Noetinger & Armando, Buenos Aires
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