The Philippine Intellectual Property Office recently issued the amended Rules and Regulations on Trademarks, Service Marks, Trade Names and Marked or Stamped Containers of 2017. One of the new the requirements of the amended regulation is the filing of a declaration of use within 1 year from the date of renewal of a trademark. The requirement applies to all renewal applications due on or after 1 January 2017, even if the mark has been renewed prior to the effectivity of the new regulation on 1 August 2017. The requirement applies to International Registrations designating the Philippines.
A local company applied for the mark “Champagne Bubbly” for non-wine goods – specifically, for perfume and other bath and personal care products. This encountered an opposition primarily hinged on “champagne” being supposedly only used for sparkling wine wholly produced from Champagne, France.
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) took the contrary position and maintained that “Champagne Bubbly” is eligible for registration. While it is a fact that “champagne” is a controlled appellation of origin, wine is unrelated to and cannot in any way be confused with the products on which Applicant intends to use the contested mark. The decision
discussed the basics of trademarks laws: that trademark laws were born out of the need to point out the origin and ownership of goods. The IPO mentioned that without a doubt, the Champagne region is known for its wine and not for perfume and other bath and personal care products. Ergo, there can be no confusion as to origin.
Should the IPO have considered dilution?
Increased official fees will take effect on 1 January 2017, subject to the following exceptions:
(1) All Statements of Account (SOAs) issued in 2016 based on the old rates may be paid within the period of validity of the SOA even if the actual payment is made in 2017, provided the SOA remains valid on the date of payment;
(2) Where an extension of time to pay was granted in 2016 and the new due date falls in 2017, such payment will be based on the old fee structure and any SOA to be issued pursuant to such extension will be based on the old rates;
(3) Payments that are due on days when IPOPHL is closed (from 24 December 2016 to 2 January 2017) will be accepted on 3-6 January 2017, and any SOA issued or to be issued will follow the old fee structure.
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has removed the entire section on discounts extended to online filings of applications in its new schedule of fees that will take effect on 1 January 2017. Informal inquiries with officers of the IPOPHL revealed that the section was purposely deleted as it is the intention of IPOPHL to no longer extend such discount. Thus, online filings of applications will be assessed the same application fee as manual filings made before the IPOPHL.
Café de Coral Assets Ltd. (CDC) opposed the application of Albertito Guerero for “The Old Spaghetti House” based on the former’s “The Spaghetti House” trademark registration worldwide including the Philippines. While CDC was able to show that it had a prior registration in the Philippines, CDC and its predecessor-in-interest were actually not able to use the mark in the Philippines. CDC filed an affidavit of non-use on the basis that it is still looking for a suitable franchisee in the Philippines. The Bureau of Legal Affairs (BLA), however, considered this excuse to be unacceptable. Mr. Guerrero was thus able to show that he was the first one to have used “The Old Spaghetti House” mark in the Philippines, and was in fact the “OLDER” Spaghetti House. The decision of the BLA may be accessed here.
The Philippine Trademark Office is in the process of drafting amendments to the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. Our Firm’s partner, Joseph Sarmiento, is working closely with the International Trademarks Association (INTA) through his INTA Committee to implement much needed changes to make Philippine trademarks practices in tune with the times.
Among the amendments that will be proposed is the deletion of the requirement that an application that claims priority from a foreign registration should be registered in the country of origin first. This has been the bane of foreign applicants as this requirement is an unusual requirement that does not conform with the Paris Convention. Further, as Philippine trademark applications are now examined with relative dispatch (within a month or 2 from filing), a trademark application that claims priority from a foreign application is at a disadvantage as it will have to wait for the priority application to mature to registration first (which can take years in some countries).
The Philippine Intellectual Property Office (IPOPHL) will increase its official fees effective 1 January 2017. To minimize costs in pursuing intellectual property rights protection before the IPOPHL, we recommend filing any applications that are in the pipeline before the end of the year. For more information on the revisions, you may click this link.
The Philippine Trademark Office has issued new forms for trademark applications, declarations of use, renewals, etc. The old forms will only be accepted until December 2016.
The Bureau of Legal Affairs (BLA) has recently issued decisions that sustained oppositions on the basis of trade names or corporate names.
In the case of Aura Hotels and Resorts vs. Racher SNV Inc.
, the BLA sustained an opposition filed by Aura Hotels for the Racher’s trademark application for AURA covering hotels and restaurant services. In the case of MUHLE GMBH & CO. KG vs. Rishi N. Mirani
for the latter’s trademark application for MUHLE GLASSHUTE, the BLA sustained the opposition of MUHLE GMBH on the basis that its trade name had the word “MUHLE”, even if MUHLE GMBH was not able to prove that its mark was well known in the Philippines.
In both of these cases, it has to be noted that the applicants applied for the marks in question covering goods/services that are being offered or distributed by the opposers.
Here are some of the salient points of the amended rules on Inter Partes Proceedings.
1. The period to file a notice of opposition and answer has been extended from 90 days to 120 days, restoring the original period under the previous Inter Partes rules.
2. For opposition documents executed abroad, authentication may be secured after filing of the opposition case provided that the execution of the opposition documents is prior to such filing and that proof of authentication is submitted prior to the issuance of default order or conduct of preliminary conference. Notably, there appears to be no similar provision in respect of authentication of answers. Thus, it apppears that authentication of answers must still be done before their filing.
2. The Hearing/Adjudication Officers is now authorized to issue and sign decisions and final orders. Previously, this authority was reserved only to the Director of Bureau of Legal Affairs and the Committee of Three (in petitions to cancel patents).
3. The decisions or final orders in Inter Partes cases must now be issued within 60 days from the date the case is deemed submitted for resolution.
4. The appeal to decisions or final orders issued by Hearing/Adjudication Officers must be filed with the Director of the Bureau of Legal Affairs prior to the appeal with the Director General of the IPO. This adds another layer to the appeals process.