International Intellectual Property Treaties | Part – 3

Paris Convention: 

The Paris Convention, adopted in 1883, applies to industrial property in the widest sense, including patents, trademarks, industrial designs, utility models, service marks, trade names, geographical indications and the repression of unfair competition. This international agreement was the first major step taken to help creators ensure that their intellectual works were protected in other countries.

 

The Paris Convention applies to industrial property in the widest sense, including patents, trademarks, industrial designs, utility models (a kind of “small-scale patent” provided for by the laws of some countries), service marks, trade names (designations under which an industrial or commercial activity is carried out), geographical indications (indications of source and appellations of origin) and the repression of unfair competition.

 

The substantive provisions of the Convention fall into three main categories: national treatment, right of priority, common rules.

 

(1) Under the provisions on national treatment, the Convention provides that, as regards the protection of industrial property, each Contracting State must grant the same protection to nationals of other Contracting States that it grants to its own nationals. Nationals of non-Contracting States are also entitled to national treatment under the Convention if they are domiciled or have a real and effective industrial or commercial establishment in a Contracting State.

 

(2) The Convention provides for the right of priority in the case of patents (and utility models where they exist), marks and industrial designs. This right means that, on the basis of a regular first application filed in one of the Contracting States, the applicant may, within a certain period of time (12 months for patents and utility models; 6 months for industrial designs and marks), apply for protection in any of the other Contracting States. These subsequent applications will be regarded as if they had been filed on the same day as the first application. In other words, they will have priority (hence the expression “right of priority”) over applications filed by others during the said period of time for the same invention, utility model, mark or industrial design. Moreover, these subsequent applications, being based on the first application, will not be affected by any event that takes place in the interval, such as the publication of an invention or the sale of articles bearing a mark or incorporating an industrial design. One of the great practical advantages of this provision is that applicants seeking protection in several countries are not required to present all of their applications at the same time but have 6 or 12 months to decide in which countries they wish to seek protection, and to organize with due care the steps necessary for securing protection.

 

(3) The Convention lays down a few common rules that all Contracting States must follow. The most important are:

 

(a) Patents. Patents granted in different Contracting States for the same invention are independent of each other: the granting of a patent in one Contracting State does not oblige other Contracting States to grant a patent; a patent cannot be refused, annulled or terminated in any Contracting State on the ground that it has been refused or annulled or has terminated in any other Contracting State.

 

 The inventor has the right to be named as such in the patent.

 

The grant of a patent may not be refused, and a patent may not be invalidated, on the ground that the sale of the patented product, or of a product obtained by means of the patented process, is subject to restrictions or limitations resulting from the domestic law.

 

Each Contracting State that takes legislative measures providing for the grant of compulsory licenses to prevent the abuses which might result from the exclusive rights conferred by a patent may do so only under certain conditions. A compulsory license (a license not granted by the owner of the patent but by a public authority of the State concerned), based on failure to work or insufficient working of the patented invention, may only be granted pursuant to a request filed after three years from the grant of the patent or four years from the filing date of the patent application, and it must be refused if the patentee gives legitimate reasons to justify this inaction. Furthermore, forfeiture of a patent may not be provided for, except in cases where the grant of a compulsory license would not have been sufficient to prevent the abuse. In the latter case, proceedings for forfeiture of a patent may be instituted, but only after the expiration of two years from the grant of the first compulsory license.

 

(b) Marks. The Paris Convention does not regulate the conditions for the filing and registration of marks which are determined in each Contracting State by domestic law. Consequently, no application for the registration of a mark filed by a national of a Contracting State may be refused, nor may a registration be invalidated, on the ground that filing, registration or renewal has not been affected in the country of origin. The registration of a mark obtained in one Contracting State is independent of its possible registration in any other country, including the country of origin; consequently, the lapse or annulment of the registration of a mark in one Contracting State will not affect the validity of the registration in other Contracting States.

 

Where a mark has been duly registered in the country of origin, it must, on request, be accepted for filing and protected in its original form in the other Contracting States. Nevertheless, registration may be refused in well-defined cases, such as where the mark would infringe the acquired rights of third parties; where it is devoid of distinctive character; where it is contrary to morality or public order; or where it is of such a nature as to be liable to deceive the public.

 

If, in any Contracting State, the use of a registered mark is compulsory, the registration cannot be canceled for non-use until after a reasonable period, and then only if the owner cannot justify this inaction.

 

Each Contracting State must refuse registration and prohibit the use of marks that constitute a reproduction, imitation or translation, liable to create confusion, of a mark used for identical and similar goods and considered by the competent authority of that State to be well known in that State and to already belong to a person entitled to the benefits of the Convention.

 

Each Contracting State must likewise refuse registration and prohibit the use of marks that consist of or contain, without authorization, armorial bearings, State emblems and official signs and hallmarks of Contracting States, provided they have been communicated through the International Bureau of WIPO. The same provisions apply to armorial bearings, flags, other emblems, abbreviations and names of certain intergovernmental organizations.

 

Collective marks must be granted protection.

 

(c) Industrial Designs. Industrial designs must be protected in each Contracting State, and protection may not be forfeited on the ground that articles incorporating the design are not manufactured in that State.

 

(d) Trade Names. Protection must be granted to trade names in each Contracting State without there being an obligation to file or register the names.

 

(e) Indications of Source. Measures must be taken by each Contracting State against direct or indirect use of a false indication of the source of goods or the identity of their producer, manufacturer or trader.

 

(f) Unfair competition. Each Contracting State must provide for effective protection against unfair competition.

 

The Paris Union, established by the Convention, has an Assembly and an Executive Committee. Every State that is a member of the Union and has adhered to at least the administrative and final provisions of the Stockholm Act (1967) is a member of the Assembly. The members of the Executive Committee are elected from among the members of the Union, except for Switzerland, which is a member ex officio. The establishment of the biennial program and budget of the WIPO Secretariat – as far as the Paris Union is concerned – is the task of its Assembly.

 

The Paris Convention, concluded in 1883, was revised at Brussels in 1900, at Washington in 1911, at The Hague in 1925, at London in 1934, at Lisbon in 1958 and at Stockholm in 1967, and was amended in 1979.

 

The Convention is open to all States. Instruments of ratification or accession must be deposited with the Director General of WIPO.

 

Patent Law Treaty:

 

The Patent Law Treaty (PLT) was adopted in 2000 with the aim of harmonizing and streamlining formal procedures with respect to national and regional patent applications and patents and making such procedures more users friendly. With the significant exception of filing date requirements, the PLT provides the maximum sets of requirements the office of a Contracting Party may apply.

 

The aim of the Patent Law Treaty (PLT) is to harmonize and streamline formal procedures in respect of national and regional patent applications and patents and, thus, to make such procedures more user friendly. With the significant exception of filing date requirements, the PLT provides the maximum sets of requirements the office of a Contracting Party may apply. This means that a Contracting Party is free to provide for requirements that are more generous from the viewpoint of applicants and owners, but that the requirements under the PLT are mandatory as to the maximum an office can require from applicants or owners. The Treaty contains, in particular, provisions on the following issues:

 

Requirements for obtaining a filing date were standardized in order to minimize the risks that applicants could inadvertently lose the filing date, which is of utmost importance in the patent procedure. The PLT requires that the office of any Contracting Party must accord a filing date to an application upon compliance with three simple formal requirements: first, an indication that the elements received by the office are intended to be an application for a patent for an invention; second, indications that would allow the office to identify or to contact the applicant (however, a Contracting Party is allowed to require indications on both); third, a part which appears to be a description of the invention. No additional elements can be required for according a filing date. In particular, a Contracting Party cannot include one or more claims or a filing fee in a filing date requirement. As mentioned above, these requirements are not maximum requirements but constitute absolute requirements, so that a Contracting Party would not be allowed to accord a filing date unless all those requirements are complied with.

A set of formal requirements for national and regional applications was standardized by incorporating into the PLT the requirements relating to form or content of international applications under the PCT, including the contents of the PCT request Form and the use of that request Form accompanied by an indication that the application is to be treated as a national application. This eliminates or reduces procedural gaps between national, regional and international patent systems.

The standardized Model International Forms that have to be accepted by the offices of all Contracting Parties were established.

A number of procedures before patent offices were simplified, which contributes to a reduction in costs for applicants as well as for offices. Examples of such procedures are exceptions from mandatory representation, the restriction on requiring evidence on a systematic basis, the requirement that offices accept a single communication covering more than one application or patent in certain cases (e.g., a single power of attorney) or the restriction on the requirement to submit a copy of an earlier application and a translation thereof.

The PLT provides procedures for avoiding the unintentional loss of substantive rights resulting from failure to comply with formality requirements or time limits. These include the obligation that offices notify the applicant or other concerned person, extensions of time limits, continued processing, reinstatement of rights, and restrictions on revocation/invalidation of a patent for formal defects, where they were not noticed by the office during the application stage.

The implementation of electronic filing is facilitated, while ensuring the co-existence of both paper and electronic communications. The PLT provides that Contracting Parties were allowed to exclude paper communications and to fully switch to electronic communications as of June 2, 2005. However, even after that date, they have to accept paper communications for the purpose of obtaining a filing date and for meeting a time limit. In this connection, the Agreed Statement stipulates that industrialized countries will continue to furnish support to developing countries and countries in transition in relation to the introduction of electronic filing.

The PLT was concluded in 2000, and entered into force in 2005.

 

The PLT is open to States members of WIPO and/or States party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883). It is also open to certain intergovernmental organizations. Instruments of ratification or accession must be deposited with the Director General of WIPO.

eneral of WIPO.

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Rajin Ahmed

Ph.D. (Fellow), Advocate. Member: Bangladesh Intellectual Property Law Society (BIPLS). Member: Society for Information and Research on Business Intellectual Inventions (SIRBII). Associate: Intellectual Property Association of Bangladesh

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