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Amendments to Trademark Laws

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Jul 14, 2015 (Newsletter Issue 11/15)
United Kingdom
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Amendments of the New Trade Mark Act in British Virgin Islands

Major changes are about to take place in the IP regime of the British Virgin Islands, when the Trade Marks Act, 2013 (passed by the House of Assembly on April 30, 2013) comes into force on September 1, 2015.

The new Act will replace the Trade Marks Act (Cap.158) of 1887 and the United Kingdom Trade Marks Act (Cap.157) of 1946, ending the dual filing system currently in place for trademarks. Once the new laws go into effect, it will no longer be possible to register marks in British Virgin Islands on the basis of an existing United Kingdom registration.

For trade mark owners to benefit from the existing provision that permits the “fast-track” extension of a United Kingdom national right to the British Virgin Islands , a UK-based application should be filed in good time before the present legislation is repealed and that option ceases to exist.

The main features of the new law include:
- Provision for service marks
- Provision for defensive marks, series marks, certification and collective marks
- Adoption of the 10th Edition of the Nice classification
- Provision for multi-class registration
- Protection for well-known marks
- Definition of a registrable trade mark broadened to include any sign that is capable of being registered graphically (including brand, colour, device, figurative element, heading, label, letter, name, numeral, shape, signature, ticket or word and numeral, as well as “non-traditional” sound, taste and scent marks)
- Priority may be claimed under the provisions of the Paris Convention
- Renewal period revised from 14 to 10 years
- Provision for removal after three years’ non-use
- Provision for recordal of licences
- Provision for recordal of assignments without goodwill
- Compulsory preliminary searches (under review)

Transitional provisions:
- Existing independent and UK-based registrations will remain valid under the new law
- Existing independent and UK-based applications which are still pending at the time of the implementation of the new law will be finalised under the provisions of the repealed law
- The 14-year renewal term will continue to apply to independent registrations filed under the repealed law (the 10-year term already applies to UK-based registrations)
- Existing independent registrations will need to be re-classified from the old British to the Nice classification (procedure to be confirmed)

A new scale of official fees is being introduced. This is currently under review, and should be in place by the time the new law takes effect.

Source: Spoor & Fisher, South Africa/Channel Islands