While almost all Countries in the world deal with the serious Covid-19 – crisis, there are also new laws which should get attention.
On March 20, 2020, the long awaited new Greek trademark Law no. 4679/2020 was published. Amendments in the Trademark Law were urgent, as the Directive 2015/2436 usually had to be implemented into Greek law until January 15, 2019, more than one year ago.
The Greek legislator decided not only to implement Directive 2015/2436 into Greek law, but made also some serious amendments in trademark law.
The new provisions allow the filing of all forms of trademarks, as required by Directive 2015/2436. This includes any sign which is capable of distinguishing goods or services, including sound trademarks, which were not covered under Greek Law until now. Furthermore, Art. 8 of Law no. 4679/2020 includes the right to prohibit preparatory acts in relation to the use of packaging or other means. In this way, Art. 11 of the Directive 2015/2436 is implemented into Greek Law. Now, the Greek Trademark Law provides proper protection with regard to preparatory acts, a right which was not provided by the prior Trademark Law.
However, the most important amendment of the Greek Trademark Law is related to the filing procedure. Based on the prior Trademark Law, the Trademark Committee often rejected trademarks due to relative grounds for refusal or invalidity. This procedural step very much delayed the registration of the trademark. Such a rejection for relative grounds is not included anymore in the Law no. 4679/2020. Based on Law no. 4679/2020, the Trademark Committee only rejects trademark applications for absolute grounds but not for relative grounds. This amendment will very much simplify the filing proceeding and will expedite the registration of the trademarks.
A further serious amendment is related to the responsibility of Administrative Courts and Civil Courts. Based on the prior legislation, the Administrative Courts were responsible for all proceedings concerning the validity of trademarks, which included all oppositions and cancellations. The Civil Courts were responsible only for the infringement proceedings. Under the new Law no. 4679/2020, the Civil Courts will be responsible not only for all infringement proceedings, but also for cancellation or invalidity proceedings. Only the opposition procedure stays with the responsibility of the Administrative Courts. This amendment was indeed necessary, as the Civil Court proceedings often included issues concerning the validity of trademarks, and the responsibility in this regard was very much disputed. The new legislation now clarifies this issue.
Finally, Greek Law now allows the filing of certification marks, which was not possible under the prior legislation.
The Law no. 4679/2020 therefore indeed modernizes Greek Trademark Law, not only by implementing Directive 2015/2436 but also by simplifying and clarifying the proceedings before the Trademark Office and the responsible Courts. This will increase the legal certainty in Greece.
Dr. Henning Voelkel, LL.M.