Reform in the Republic of Belarus following the law of January 5th, 2016

belarus-1242258_640The legislation of the Republic of Belarus has recently evolved through a law adopted on January 5, 2016. The law will allow Belarusian law to advance its current practices in the field of trademark law. Further opportunities for trademark applicants have also been implemented. The amendment came into force on July 15, 2016.

First and foremost, with the new law, trademark registrations with the National Intellectual Property Center can now be filed not only by companies but also by citizens, including foreign citizens. Indeed, before this law was adopted, it was impossible for a foreigner to register a national Belarusian trademark.
Some of the other significant changes in the law adopted on January 5, 2016, include:

Grounds for refusal of registration
A list of grounds for refusal of registration was added and amended by the law of January 5, 2016. Before the law was enacted, the registration of trademarks exclusively composed of symbols or indications used to designate the following was not authorized:
– kind,
– quality,
– quantity,
– property,
– value of the goods,
– process of their manufacturing or selling.

According to the amendment, registration will now be refused only if the abovementioned symbols or indications are dominant components of the trademark being registered, rather than on grounds of their mere presence.
Also, if a sign is identical or confusingly similar to a design or a plant variety protected in Belarus, and if the goods or services are themselves identical of similar, it is impossible to register such a sign as a trademark.

Integration of the International Classification for goods and services (Nice Classification)
From now on, the trademark registration application must bear reference to the Nice Classification for goods and services. Before the law was adopted on January 5th, 2016, such an indication was optional.
What we have here is clearly a desire for the Republic of Belarus to harmonize its IP law with international law standards.

Restoration of expired time limits
It is now possible to restore a number of expired time limits:

– the time limit for responding to a preliminary examination request;
– the time limit for responding to an expert examination request;
– the time limit for submission of a petition for conducting an expert re-examination;
– the time limit for lodging a complaint with the Court of Appeal.

However, it is only possible to restore the abovementioned time limits within three months of the date of their expiration. In addition, time limits will only be restored in exchange for payment of the restoration fees. Finally, the applicant needs to provide proof of a reasonable justification for missing the deadline.

Additional changes have been introduced by the law adopted on January 5th, 2016, such as the prohibition of voluntary licenses between commercial entities. These amendments have allowed the Republic of Belarus to bridge the gap between its legislation and that of other countries, having signed international conventions such as the Nice Agreement.