New country - new registration and enforcement system

Serbia and Montenegro

The Yugoslav Parliament's decision earlier this year to transform the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia into the state union of Serbia and Montenegro has affected the statutory and judicial bodies that were responsible for registering and enforcing trademarks in that country. A number of these bodies have been dissolved and it is hoped that replacements will be put into place over the coming months.

The most notable changes are the following:

  • The Intellectual Property Office in Belgrade will continue to be the sole authority for the registration of trademarks for the whole territory of the state union (ie, for both Serbia and Montenegro). Trademarks that were registered in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia continue to be valid in both states.

  • The Federal Court, which heard appeals against the decisions of the Intellectual Property Office, has been dissolved. It is expected that a new court will be formed in the coming months.

  • The Office of the Federal Public Prosecutor has also been dissolved. Under the previous system, a trademark owner that was not satisfied with a decision of the Federal Court could, as a last resort, approach the public prosecutor and ask him to initiate proceedings. This legal recourse is not available at present, but it is likely that the responsibility will fall on the respective public prosecutors of the two states.

  • The federal market-inspection system has been disbanded. Where unfair competition is at issue, trademark owners will now have to address the respective market inspectors in Serbia and Montenegro.

  • The Federal Customs Authority, which was preparing amendments to the Customs Law to allow the enforcement of trademark rights at the borders of the former Yugoslavia, has also been dissolved. Its work will now be continued by the customs authorities in both states.

  • The district courts still have jurisdiction to hear trademark infringement actions. Decisions of the district courts can be appealed to the High Court in each of the two states.

Gordana Pavlovic, Cabinet Pavlovic Eastern Europe, Belgrade

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