Understanding the opposition process in Sao Tome and Principe intellectual property law

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Changes in the São Tomé and Príncipe trademark regime – including a detailed opposition process – came into effect in 2017. Below are the key points of the system, including all major deadlines.

Grounds for refusal

A trademark can be refused in opposition proceedings on the following grounds:

  • The reproduction or imitation of a company name, establishment badges or other distinctive signs, or simply of characteristics which do not belong to the applicant or which he is not authorized to use, or if they are liable to mislead or mislead the consumer.

  • Copyright infringement.

  • Use of references to specific rural or urban real estate that is not owned by the applicant.

  • If an agent or representative of an owner of a trademark registered in a foreign country but not registered in São Tomé and Príncipe requests the registration of this trademark in his own name, without the authorization of the said owner.

In the case of the last point, the National Industrial Property Service (SENAPI) can grant the mark for the benefit of its legitimate owner.

Opposition deadlines

The opposition period runs from the date of publication of the trademark application in the Intellectual Property Bulletin. The opposition period for any third party is three months.

Response time to the opposition

The trade mark applicant can respond to the opposition submissions within three months of the respective notification.

Additional statements

The legislation also allows that, until the date of the decision, pleadings can be presented in order to clarify the process. This procedure has no special requirements.

Extension of deadlines

The opposition and response deadlines may be extended once by one month.

Suspension of the examination

The opposition procedure can be suspended in two cases:

  • by agreement of the parties for a period not exceeding six months; and

  • when one of the parties presents a cause that could affect the decision of the opposition process (for example, an ongoing legal action that could affect the legitimacy of the opposition process).

Late filing of documents

Late filing of documents is permitted, if authorized by SENAPI.

Controls

The rules on inspections refer to all industrial rights. In this sense, within the framework of an opposition procedure, the Patent and Trademark Office can go to a commercial establishment to carry out inspections.

Administrative appeals and modifications

A decision made by the PTO can be appealed within three months. The appeal must contain information about the facts that contradict that specific decision. The appeal will then be decided by a hierarchical superior.

This is a co-edited article, which was originally published in the World Trademark Review (WTR).


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