On February 8, 2019, the Uzbek Government signed a Resolution “On Measures to Improve Public Administration in the Field of Intellectual Property”, intended to improve the IP protection system in the country.
The text of the resolution identifies inadequate public service system, insufficient interagency cooperation, failure to detect and tackle IP infringement in a timely manner, high official fees and lack of qualified personnel as major impediments to enforcement efforts.
Under the resolution, the Agency for Intellectual Property, which operated as an independent government agency, was recently transferred under the wing of the Ministry of Justice.
The main highlights of the new resolution are the following:
- The Agency now publishes information on pending trademark applications on its website within one business day from receiving the applications; before, information on pending trademark applications was obtained through an availability search which involved a special request and fee, while the Agency only published information on registered trademarks;
- Manufacturers, suppliers, vendors or their representatives may submit official written observations and oppositions before the Agency against pending bad faith trademark applications; before, such observations were considered as unofficial requests;
- Exclusive trademark rights are now active from the moment of official registration, not the moment of official publication as stipulated by the previous law;
- The five-year non-use grace period has been reduced to three years.
By July 1, 2019:
- The Ministry of Justice and the Department for Combating Economic Crimes under the Prosecutor General’s office will have to review all trademarks registered in Uzbekistan, identify all well-known trademarks registered in bad faith (probably meaning famous trademarks and brands; this is yet to be clarified) and take measures to cancel such registrations;
- The Agency, in partnership with the Customs Committee and the Department for Combating Economic Crimes, needs to develop and implement a single integrated and constantly updated IP database which will allow online and real time tracking of IP rights that have received or lost legal protection, and automatic inclusion and exclusion of IP rights from the Customs IP Registry upon receipt or loss of legal protection, respectively.
The main reason behind the need to review all registered trademarks is that there have been numerous cases of companies with globally known brands encountering difficulties when entering the Uzbek market, because their trademarks were already registered in the name of Uzbek citizens and legal entities. However, in Uzbek legislation the legal notion of a “well-known trademark” does not necessarily encompass all famous foreign brands, which is why the Ministry of Justice will have to come up with specific amendments to the legislation in force.
Starting from September 1, 2019, it will be possible to file trademark applications in electronic form through local centers of the State Services Agency under the Ministry of Justice or through the Single Portal of Interactive State Services; before the Resolution, trademark applications could only be submitted in paper form directly to the Agency for Intellectual Property in Tashkent.
The resolution also envisages a step-by-step reduction of trademark- and industrial design-related official fees from January 1, 2020.