On January 16, 2016, the Romanian PTO announced the issuance of Order No. 5/2016, which was supposed to override the instructions that governed the examination of trademarks and geographical indications since August 1, 2012.

By way of background, the Romanian Law on Trademarks and Geographical Indicationswas amended in 2010, abolishing the examination of new trademark applications on relative grounds for refusal.

Two years later, despite the amendment, the Romanian PTO adopted instructions that reintroduced the ex officio citation of prior rights, as part of the examination of absolute grounds for refusal (i.e. examining a trademark’s capacity to distinguish the goods/services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings).

On January 16, 2016, the PTO announced the issuance of a new Order, but did not publish the complete text of the Order. The apparent intention of the PTO could have been to abolish its practice of examination on relative grounds. Then, two days later, on January 18, the PTO removed the announcement about the new Order as well as the 2012 instructions from its website.

It is too early to draw conclusions, so we will publish an update as more information becomes available. Meanwhile, we would like to remind our clients that they may resort to filing oppositions, appeals or cancellation actions should they wish to challenge any prior, conflicting trademarks in Romania.