18 April 2013

Libyan Trade Marks Office resumes operations

It has recently been announced that the Libyan Trade Marks Office has resumed its activities and will recommence receiving the filing of trade mark applications.

This follow the time of unrest following the 2011 Libyan Civil War and the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi.

Perhaps reflecting its status as a pariah state over the last decades, Libya has been a special case with respect to trade marks for many years.

In the late 1970s the Office basically ceased to operate. However, in this time it was possible to file applications - and the Office quite happily took the fees - but applications then sat in a perpetual state of limbo. The Office was also quite happy to receive renewal fees 10 years down the line.

This changed in the early 2000s when Libya unilaterally cancelled any old registrations and pending applications and required trade mark owners to file fresh applications.

I worked for a Swiss company in 2008 when Switzerland and Libya had a diplomatic row following the arrest of one of Colonel Gaddafi's son in Geneva. This led to repercussions for Swiss companies with business interests in Libya and, with respect to trade mark owners, the issuing of an edict prohibiting Swiss applicants for making applications for trade marks.

The resumption of activities has also seen the restrictions on Swiss applicants removed.

Libya remains a cumbersome and relatively expensive jurisdiction in which to file trade mark applications. Along with a Power of Attorney, filing requirements include a Certificate of Incorporation/Extract of the Commercial Register and a certified copy of the "home" registration. These documents require translation into Arabic and legalisation up to the Libyan Consulate.

Fees are payable at filing, publication and registration. It will remain to be seen how quickly applications can now move forward to registration.

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