Registration and use

Ownership of marks

Who may apply for registration?

Any natural or legal person can apply for a Greek trademark registration.

Scope of trademark

What may and may not be protected and registered as a trademark?

A trademark may consist of any sign capable of being represented graphically, which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.

In particular, a trademark may consist of words, names, company names, pseudonyms, designs, letters, numerals, colours, sounds, including musical phrases, the shape of the goods or of their packaging and advertising messages (slogans) (article 121 of Part Three ‘Trademarks’ of Law No. 4072/2012 as amended by Law No. 4155/2013 - referred to as Trademark Law No. 4072/12).

‘Non-traditional’ trademarks are protected, provided that as with any other trademark, they can be represented graphically. Therefore, trade dress or get-up and holograms are protectable under the current law.

Currently, non-traditional marks that can only be reproduced indirectly (ie, by a description) cannot be filed with the Greek Trademark Office. Following harmonisation with the Trade Marks Directive, which is not yet in effect, any sign with a representation that is ‘clear, precise, self-contained, easily accessible, intelligible, durable and objective’ will be protectable.

Unregistered trademarks

Can trademark rights be established without registration?

Unregistered ‘distinctive signs’ are protected according to articles 13 to 15 of the Unfair Competition Law No. 146/1914 (as amended). The unregistered sign must possess distinctive character and must have been used in commercial transactions in a systematic, continuous, substantial way for a long time, sufficient for the sign to have been established in the market as a distinctive feature of the enterprise using it.

Furthermore, unregistered trademarks that constitute a personal or a company name are protectable under special provisions of civil and commercial laws that protect the name of a person and the company names.

Famous foreign trademarks

Is a famous foreign trademark afforded protection even if not used domestically? If so, must the foreign trademark be famous domestically? What proof is required? What protection is provided?

Under the relative grounds for refusal and according to article 124(2)(c), earlier marks are:

trademarks which, on the date of application for registration of the trademark, or, where appropriate, of the priority claimed in respect of the application for registration of the trademark, are well known in the sense in which the words "well known" are used in article 6bis of the Paris Convention.

Furthermore, under article 124(3)(c):

A trademark shall not be registered where it causes likelihood of confusion with a trademark that has been registered and is being used abroad at the time of filing the application for registration and where the applicant was acting in bad faith when he filed the application for the trademark.

A famous foreign trademark is protected, even if not used domestically, when 'bad faith' can be proved (eg, when there exists evidence that the applicant was in cooperation with the foreign entity entitled to file or use the mark).

If 'bad faith' can be proved the foreign entity can file an opposition, a declaration for invalidity, as well as be protected with the measures provided by the civil and penal courts.

The benefits of registration

What are the benefits of registration?

The benefits of registration include access to both administrative, as well as to civil and penal law proceedings for the protection against unlawful use or registration of an infringing sign. Enforcement is easier than for a non-registered mark. The mere submission of the trademark certificate is sufficient for a legal action against the unauthorised use of an identical sign. Trademark registration is prima facie evidence of ownership and validity of the same. Trademark owners that have filed a general special request are notified by the customs authorities for suspected unauthorised goods and seizure by customs authorities of imported unauthorised goods is available to trademark owners.

Filing procedure and documentation

What documentation is needed to file a trademark application? What rules govern the representation of the mark in the application? Is electronic filing available? Are trademark searches available or required before filing? If so, what procedures and fees apply?

The only documentation required to file the trademark application is a power of attorney. No legalisation of the power of attorney is required. The representation of the mark may be filed electronically or by submitting to the Trademark Office the application in hard copy and electronic format (CD or USB stick).

Trademark searches are not required. Trademark searches are performed by local counsel and prevent objections by the examiner, since both absolute and relative grounds of refusal are examined by the Trademark Office.

The official fee for a trademark application in one class is €110 and for each additional class up to 10 classes the additional official fee is €20. Furthermore, the official fee issued by the Association of Attorneys for the representation of the trademark owner is €214 for one trademark application.

Registration time frame and cost

How long does it typically take, and how much does it typically cost, to obtain a trademark registration? When does registration formally come into effect? What circumstances would increase the estimated time and cost of filing a trademark application and receiving a registration?

The registration procedure typically lasts six to eight months.

Registration comes into effect three months following the publication of the examiner’s decision accepting the registration of a trademark application, provided no opposition is filed. In the latter case, registration comes into effect by filing to the Registry the finalisation certificate for the proceedings before the administrative courts and the administrative trademark committee.

The minimum cost to obtain a trademark registration in Greece in one class is approximately €450.

Possible reasons that may increase the estimated time and cost are:

  • request by the examiner to amend and complete irregularities or deficiencies in the application to be rectified within one month from the request (article 138 of Trademark Law No. 4072/12);
  • objections by the examiner that are based on absolute or relative grounds for refusal, which are notified by email usually within one month from the application date. A response must be submitted within one month from the notification of the examiner’s objections. The response may include:
    • withdrawal of trademark application;
    • limitation of goods or services;
    • submission of a letter of consent by the owner of a conflicting trademark application or registration; and
    • observations in support of the application,
  • the examiner issues their final decision regarding the registration or refusal of the trademark application usually within one month from the submission of the response (article 139 of Trademark Law No. 4072/12); and
  • opposition filed by a third party within three months from the publication of the examiner’s decision on the official website of the Trademark Office (article 140 of Trademark Law No. 4072/2012).
Classification system

What classification system is followed, and how does this system differ from the International Classification System as to the goods and services that can be claimed? Are multi-class applications available and what are the estimated cost savings?

Greece uses the Nice Classification system. Multi-class trademark applications are acceptable.

The official fee for each additional class up to the tenth is €20. No further fee is paid for more than 10 classes of goods or services (article 179 of Trademark Law No. 4072/12).

Examination procedure

What procedure does the trademark office follow when determining whether to grant a registration? Are applications examined for potential conflicts with other trademarks? Are letters of consent accepted to overcome an objection based on a third-party mark? May applicants respond to rejections by the trademark office?

The examiner first examines the formalities and possible irregularities or deficiencies in the application. If any of these are found, the examiner sends an invitation to the applicant or their representative by email to rectify the irregularities or deficiencies within one month from the invitation (article 138 of Trademark Law No. 4072/12).

Furthermore, the examiner examines the trademark application of the basis of both absolute and relative grounds for refusal. The examiner notifies their objections by email to the applicant or their representative within one month from the application date. A response must be submitted within one month from the notification of the examiner’s objections. The response may include:

  • withdrawal of trademark application;
  • limitation of goods or services;
  • submission of a letter of consent by the owner of a conflicting trademark application or registration; and
  • observations in support of the application.

The examiner issues their final decision regarding the registration or refusal of the trademark application usually within one month from the submission of the response (article 139 of Trademark Law No. 4072/12).

The examiner’s decision is published on the official website of the Trademark Office.

Use of a trademark and registration

Does use of a trademark or service mark have to be claimed before registration is granted or issued? Does proof of use have to be submitted? Are foreign registrations granted any rights of priority? If registration is granted without use, is there a time by which use must begin either to maintain the registration or to defeat a third-party challenge on grounds of non-use?

A trademark or service-mark application may be filed without prior use of the same and no proof of use is required to be submitted for its registration.

For purposes of defence in a third-party non-use cancellation action the mark should be put to genuine use in connection with the goods or services in respect of which it is registered within a continuous period of five years from registration. Such use must not have been suspended for a continuous period of five years after the registration date (article 160(1)(a) of Trademark Law No. 4072/12).

Foreign trademark applications are granted a right or priority of six months from the date of the application in the home country. The priority certificate must be filed within three months from the application date in Greece (article 177 of Trademark Law No. 472/2012).

Registration comes into effect three months following the publication of the examiner’s decision accepting the registration of a trademark application, provided no opposition is filed. In the latter case, registration comes into effect with the recordal of the finalisation of all legal proceedings before the administrative courts and the administrative trademark committee.

Markings

What words or symbols can be used to indicate trademark use or registration? Is marking mandatory? What are the benefits of using and the risks of not using such words or symbols?

Marking is not mandatory. The internationally used symbols ™ and ® may be used, in the case of an application and registration.

Appealing a denied application

Is there an appeal process if the application is denied?

A decision of the examiner that denies registration of a trademark or service mark application for all or for certain goods or services can be appealed with the Administrative Trademark Committee (ATC) within 90 days from the notification of the examiner’s decision (articles 144 and 177(4) of Trademark Law No. 4072/12).

The appeal is heard before the ATC within four to eight months from the filing of the appeal and the decision is issued within four to eight months from said hearing (article 145 of Trademark Law No. 4072/12).

The decision of the ATC can be appealed with the Administrative Court of First Instance in Athens. A second appeal is possible with the Administrative Court of Second Instance in Athens. For points of law the decision following the second appeal can be annulled by the Conseil d’Etat, which is the high court on administrative matters (article 146 of Trademark Law No. 4072/12).

Civil courts have no jurisdiction on matters regarding the registrability and validity of trademarks and the civil courts are bound by the irrevocable decisions of the ATC and the administrative courts in these matters (article 158 of Trademark Law No. 4072/12).

Third-party opposition

Are applications published for opposition? May a third party oppose an application prior to registration, or seek cancellation of a trademark or service mark after registration? What are the primary bases of such challenges, and what are the procedures? May a brand owner oppose a bad-faith application for its mark in a jurisdiction in which it does not have protection? What is the typical range of costs associated with a third-party opposition or cancellation proceeding?

The examiner’s final decision regarding the registration of a trademark application is published on the website of the Trademark Office. The time limit for an opposition by a third party is three months from the publication date (article 140 of Trademark Law No. 4072/12). The basis for the opposition may be absolute or relative grounds for refusal according to the articles 123 and 124 of Trademark Law No. 4072/2012. Any entity having a legal interest can oppose on the basis of absolute grounds for refusal (article 140(2) of Trademark Law No. 4072/2012).

Once the opposition is filed, a hearing date is set to take place before the ATC in four to six months’ time. Within this time limit the case may be settled by the parties. At the hearing of the opposition proceedings, the trademark applicant may request proof of use of the prior trademark that constitute the basis of the opposition for the goods or services of the contested trademark application mentioned in the notice of opposition (article 143 of Trademark Law No. 4072/2012).

Cancellation of a trademark owing to invalidity is sought after registration (article 161 of Trademark Law No. 4072/2012). The cancellation action is filed with the ATC and involves a similar proceeding to the opposition proceeding. Similarly, for a cancellation Action owing to non-use (article 160 of Trademark Law No. 4072/2012).

The approximate cost for a third-party opposition or cancellation proceeding before the Administrative Trademark Committee (ATC) is between €1,000 and €2,000. The ATC’s decisions are appealed with the administrative courts of first and second instance. For points of law annulment can be sought before the Conseil d’Etat.

Duration and maintenance of registration

How long does a registration remain in effect and what is required to maintain a registration? Is use of the trademark required for its maintenance? If so, what proof of use is required?

A registration is valid for 10 years and can be renewed every 10 years indefinitely (article 148 of Trademark Law No. 4072/12). No proof of use is required to be submitted for registration or renewal purposes.

Surrender

What is the procedure for surrendering a trademark registration?

At any time after registration, a Greek trademark may be surrendered by its proprietor in respect of some or all the goods and services. The surrender is submitted to the office in writing with an application for surrender, which becomes effective on the date of entry in the Trademarks Register with an ex nunc effect. The proprietor must submit proof that the licensees have been informed about its intention to surrender its rights in the trademark.

Related IP rights

Can trademarks be protected under other IP rights (eg, copyright, designs)?

A trademark might also be protected by copyright if it constitutes an original 'creative work' under copyright law. Similarly, a trademark that is a design (ie, a logo or shape mark, packaging, feature of decoration) might also be protected by a design.

Trademarks online and domain names

What regime governs the protection of trademarks online and domain names?

The competent authority managing .gr and . domain names is the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT). The procedure for obtaining a .gr and . domain name or for becoming a registrar for .gr and . domain names is governed by the provisions of EETT’s regulations and amendments. The current regulation 843/2 in effect was published on 19 March 2018 and amended in September 2018 to incorporate provisions of the General Data Protection Regulations. A domain name is cancelled and transferred to the claimant if it was registered by an entity that does not have the right in the domain name and provided that it was filed or is being used in bad faith.