New trademark legislation enters into force

Law 66/2010, which amended the Law on Trademarks and Geographical Indications, entered into force on May 9 2010. The new law introduces important changes in terminology and an improved registration procedure for national applications. It also provides a legal framework for the prosecution of Community trademarks (CTMs).

The most important change is that trademark applications are no longer examined on relative grounds, leaving it to interested parties to file an opposition. Interested parties can submit observations on absolute grounds and file oppositions on relative grounds within two months of the publication of the application in the online database of the Romanian Patent and Trademark Office. While the former law provided for a three-month term within which an applicant could respond to an opposition, under the new law, an applicant has only 30 days to reply to the opposition notice.

In addition, the new law broadened the categories of signs that can be registered as trademarks by introducing 'hologram marks' and 'sound marks'.

The new law also incorporates relevant EU provisions that were previously excluded from the national legislation - namely, the provisions of the EU Trademarks Directive (2008/95/EC). Consequently, a national application will be rejected if the mark applied for is identical, or similar, to a prior CTM registration, even if it covers goods and/or services that are different from those covered by the CTM. A CTM registration can be converted into a national registration upon payment of the examination fee for a national application.

Finally, an application for a CTM registration filed with the Romanian Patent and Trademark Office must be forwarded to the Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market within two weeks of the payment of the filing fee for the Romanian application.

Marius Ciobanasu, PETOŠEVIC, Bucharest

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