Serbia Adopts New Trademark Law, Introduces Opposition System
On January 24, 2020, the Serbian National Assembly adopted a new trademark law, which enters into force on February 1, 2020 and introduces the trademark opposition system, which will exist alongside the current ex officio examination on absolute and relative grounds.
If the application successfully passes the examination on absolute and relative grounds, it will be published in the Serbian IPO’s Official Gazette. Interested parties can file an opposition based on relative grounds for refusal within three months from the application’s publication date. Additional evidence will be accepted after the deadline only if the IPO considers it relevant for deciding on the merits of the opposition and if the opponent proves that the delay is excusable.
The applicant may submit a written response within 60 days from receiving the opposition notice. If the applicant does not respond, the opposition will be accepted. The applicant may require the opponent to prove that their earlier trademark was used in Serbia during a period of five years prior to the application’s filing date or its priority date. If the opponent does not file evidence in support of his opposition, the opposition will be refused. If it is determined that the earlier trademark was only used for some of the goods/services it was registered for, it will be deemed to be registered for only those goods/services.
Opposition proceedings may be temporarily suspended, for up to 24 months, if both parties agree to a cooling-off period, which is requested to allow negotiations to take place.
Under the previous law, interested parties objecting to the registration of a trademark on absolute and relative grounds could only file a written observation. The IPO was not required to take written observations into consideration, and persons who filed them did not become party to the proceedings. The new law retains the observation system, which will exist alongside the opposition system.
By: Sara Radić
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Slovenia: Plain Tobacco Packaging Obligatory as of January 1, 2020
Upon expiration of the transitional period, the plain packaging provisions of the Act on the Restriction on the Use of Tobacco and Related Products (“Tobacco Act”) became applicable in Slovenia on January 1, 2020.
With the Tobacco Act, in force as of March 11, 2017, Slovenia had implemented the Directive 2014/40/EU (“Tobacco Products Directive”), including its plain packaging provisions which were not mandatory. Slovenia opted to introduce them and joined the group of countries with the most restrictive rules on tobacco product packaging.
The plain tobacco packaging and individual cigarette appearance are regulated by the provisions of Article 18 (cigarette packaging), Article 19 (roll-your-own tobacco packaging) and Article 20 (cigarette appearance) of the Tobacco Act. The Rules on the Uniform Packaging of Tobacco Products, which entered into force on January 1, 2020, further specify the requirements regarding the appearance of individual cigarettes and cigarette and roll-your-own tobacco packaging.
During the summer of 2019, there were attempts by the relevant bodies to delay application of the plain packaging provisions for another three years, but these initiatives were not successful.
Prepared by: Maja Žnidarič Plevnik
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Ukraine Increases Criminal Penalties for Production and Distribution of Fake Drugs
Amendments to Ukraine’s Criminal Code increasing criminal penalties for the production and distribution of counterfeit medicines entered into force on November 28, 2019.
The length of the prison sentence was increased from 3-5 to 5-8 years for intentionally manufacturing, purchasing, transporting, shipping, storing for the purpose of sale, or selling counterfeit drugs.
While the previous law prescribed stricter penalties for similar actions committed repeatedly by a group of persons or on a large scale, penalties have now also been toughened for officials, medical and pharmaceutical staff found guilty of knowingly and intentionally distributing counterfeit drugs, as well as for all offenders involved in the online distribution of fake drugs. In such cases, the new law prescribes a prison sentence of 8-10 years, as well as property confiscation and deprivation of the right to hold certain posts for a period of up to 3 years. In contrast, the previous law prescribed a 5-8-year prison sentence and confiscation of property.
If counterfeit drugs lead to death or other serious consequences, the person found guilty may be imprisoned for 10-15 years or in certain cases for life, while their property may also be confiscated. The law previously prescribed imprisonment of 8-10 years or life imprisonment, along with property confiscation.
Prepared by: Yulia Kropivka and Igor Alfiorov
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Uzbekistan to Introduce Reference Pricing System for Pharmaceuticals
On December 30, 2019, the Uzbek President signed a decree introducing reform measures to upgrade the healthcare system. The primary measure introduced by the decree is a reference pricing system for Uzbek and foreign medicines. This system establishes a common reimbursement level or reference price for a group of interchangeable medicines, i.e. the reference group. The pricing system will be implemented in three phases.
By March 1, 2020, the Agency for the Development of the Pharmaceutical Industry under the Uzbek Ministry of Health should approve a selection of at least 10 reference countries belonging to the high, above average and below average per capita income groups. The Agency should also approve a procedure according to which medicine registration certificate holders or their authorized representatives will submit, to the Agency, information about retail prices of a certain drug in its country of origin, in reference countries and in Uzbekistan. This refers to medicines produced by the same manufacturer and having the same active substance, dosage form, number of units in the package, concentration, volume and packaging.
By May 1, 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers should present a draft law to the Legislative Chamber of the Supreme Assembly introducing administrative and criminal liability for violating the legal requirement to prescribe medicines using international nonproprietary names. The draft law should also introduce amendments to the Law on Health Protection in order to prohibit medical workers from receiving financial rewards or any other incentives from pharmaceutical organizations and pharmacies for the prescription and sale of certain medicines.
By July 1, 2020, the Agency for the Development of the Pharmaceutical Industry should register marginal costs for each brand-name pharmaceutical product included in the List of Essential Drugs, and establish price limits above which foreign medicines cannot be imported into Uzbekistan and above which domestic medicines cannot be offered for sale by local manufacturers.
By July 1, 2020, the Ministry of Health should also approve:
- Legislation regulating the procedure for prescribing medicines using international nonproprietary names, including the legal liability of medical personnel for the violation of this procedure;
- Regulation on the interchangeability of medicines for medical use;
- The procedure for organizing secret test purchases, to be carried out by the Agency for the Development of the Pharmaceutical Industry and the Consumer Protection Agency under the Uzbek Antimonopoly Committee.
The Agency for the Development of the Pharmaceutical Industry will be responsible for monitoring and analyzing the reference pricing system, alone and with the assistance of consumer rights’ protection organizations. The Agency will also create and maintain an automated information system on its official website presenting information on organizations engaged in pharmaceutical activities, registered and certified pharmaceutical products, as well as registered marginal costs for brand-name pharmaceuticals and their wholesale and retail prices.
By: Gulnoza Abdurakhmonova and Djakhangir Aripov
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Hungarian Officials Seize EUR 33,000 Worth of Fake Perfume
During a recent inspection of a warehouse in the capital of Budapest, the Hungarian National Tax and Customs Administration (NTCA) officials seized nearly 5,000 bottles of perfume infringing the Gucci®, Yves Saint Laurent®, Chanel® and Hugo Boss® trademarks.
France was the intended destination for the goods estimated to be worth approximately EUR 33,000 (USD 36,400).
Prepared by: Erika Farkas
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Officials Seize Fake Burberry® Scarves at Belgrade Airport
On January 9, 2020, Serbian customs officials at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport seized 100kg of scarves believed to infringe the Burberry® trademark.
The scarves were discovered in a shipment containing 17,000 textile products, intended for an importer from Belgrade. The goods originated in India and arrived in Belgrade via Russia.
Prepared by: Djurdja Krivokapić
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