New Law on Geographical Indications comes into force

The new Law on Geographical Indications entered into force on April 3 2010, replacing the Law on Geographical Indications of the Former State Union of Serbia and Montenegro of May 20 2006.

An important novelty is the possibility to appeal decisions of the Intellectual Property Office to the government, which will decide in the second instance. The Administrative Court will decide in the last instance. Under the previous law, the office's administrative decisions were final and the parties could initiate only administrative actions before the courts. Interested parties are now entitled to file an appeal within 15 days of the date of receipt of the office's decision.

Both the new and the old law define an 'appellation of origin' as:

the geographical name of a country or locality which serves to designate a product originating therefrom, the quality and characteristics of which are due exclusively or essentially to the geographical environment, including natural and human factors, and the production, processing and preparation of which take place in the defined geographical area.

However, under the new law, certain geographical designations may be considered as appellations of origin if the raw materials used for the production of the goods in question come from a geographical area larger than, or different from, the area of production, provided that:
  • the area of production of the raw materials is well defined;
  • there are particular conditions for the production of the raw materials; and
  • inspection arrangements are made to ensure that these conditions have been met.
Under the old law, the production, processing and preparation of the goods had to take place in a defined geographical area only with respect to appellations of origin. However, the new law imposes this condition for both appellations of origin and geographical indications.

In addition, the new law introduces specific conditions with respect to the names of registered plant varieties and animal breeds - namely, such names cannot be protected as indications of geographical origin if such protection could cause confusion among consumers. In addition, the new law states that an indication of geographical origin cannot be used to protect a name that is identical, or confusingly similar, to an earlier registered trademark if there is risk of confusion among consumers, taking into the account the reputation and the period of use of the mark.

Further, the new law provides that the registered user - or an applicant seeking the recognition of the status of the registered user for agricultural products and foodstuffs - is entitled to file an application for the registration of a Community Indication of Geographical Origin under the relevant EU regulations.

Finally, according to the new law, a preliminary injunction can be issued before a lawsuit is initiated, provided that the suit is filed within 30 days of the issuance of the preliminary injunction. Under the former law, the time limit was 15 days.

Predrag Anokic, PETOŠEVIC, Belgrade 

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