9 December 2011

New Trade Mark Jurisdiction

No not South Sudan. Developments here are being monitored and there does seem some varying information out there. We will try to keep you updated, but we are also following the excellent Afro IP blog regarding this one.

This jurisdiction is not actually that new, but it seems to have generally fallen under the radar. It's Abkhazia, a de facto independent republic in the Caucasus that most of the world recognise as de jure a part of Georgia. One country that has recognised it is Russia, a fall out of the recognition given to the independence of Kosovo by various western governments.

Abkhazia has opened its own Trade Marks Office. As could be expected in an area of the world which remains quite tense, this has gone down like a proverbial lead balloon with the Georgian Patent Office, SAKPATENTI. They have an article on their website denouncing the Office, advising it is illegal and that registrations covering it's Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia are granted exclusively by them in Tbilisi.

On the ground the situation may prove to be different for trade mark owners who may export to or trade in Abkhazia, perhaps as an extension of their Russian trading activities.

Any potential applicant should consider any negative implications of registering trade marks and trading in Abkhazia if it is unrecognised by their own country's government. They may also wish to take into account any impact it could have on their Georgian business.

Those interested in filing in Abkhazia, despite these warnings, should note it's not cheap. However, and with reference to the official fees due in Belarus, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, the former Soviet Union is not the most inexpensive part of the world to register trade marks.

It appears that registrations are granted for five year terms; the cynics amongst us will suggest that is so they can rake in even more in renewal fees.

We have located a law firm in Sukhumi, the Abkhaz capital. If more information is required, please do not hesitate to contact me.