The Trademarks Act 2003 (Vanuatu) ("New
Act") commenced in Vanuatu on 8 February 2011, following its
publication in the Official Gazette. The New Act forms a package of
legislation which came into force on that date, all contributing to
the development of intellectual property law in Vanuatu and
facilitating Vanuatu's membership to the World Trade
The New Act repealed the Registration of United Kingdom
Trademarks Act [Cap 81] (as amended) ("Old
Act"). All trademarks that had been registered under
the Old Act however are registered trademarks under the New
Under the Old Act, a person could apply to have a trademark
registered in Vanuatu only by virtue of the mark being registered
under the law of an EU Member State
("MS"). This had been extended in 2008
from a trademark registered in the UK to an MS generally
("2008 Amendments"). Only trademarks
that were still registered in the MS could be registered (i.e.
trademarks whose period of registration had expired could not be
The New Act establishes a 'local' system of registration,
in that the New Act allows trademarks to be registered for goods,
services or both goods and services, even if they were not
registered previously in a MS.
Part 3, Division 1 of the New Act contains information as to the
application process for registration of a trademark. Applications
are made to the Registrar of Trademarks
("Registrar"), who will publish details
of the application in the Gazette within 28 days and then either
accept or reject it.
Division 2 of the New Act sets out the grounds on which an
application may be rejected. For example, if the trademark contains
certain signs or cannot be represented graphically.
Part 4 of the New Act makes provision for the opposition of a
registration. If the Registrar accepts a registration it may be
opposed by a member of the public who files a notice of opposition,
provided that one of the grounds for opposition are those contained
under section 33 to 37 of the New Act. Opposition cannot be made on
any other ground.
On registering the trademark, the Registrar must give the trademark
an identifying number and certain particulars will be set out in
Registration of the trademark expires 10 years after the filing
date of the application for its registration, unless it is earlier
cancelled or removed from the register. If the trademark has been
infringed, the registered owner may take action against the
Significant Amendments in Vanuatu Trademark Registration
The 2008 Amendments extended registration from UK registered
trademarks to MS registered trademarks or to trademarks registered
under any treaty to which a MS may be a party. The 2008 Amendments
also allowed trademark registration in relation to services for the
first time in Vanuatu.
The recent commencement of the New Act transforms the entire
trademark registration system in Vanuatu.
Due to the recent commencement of the New Act in Vanuatu, it is too
early to comment on the effectiveness of the new trademark
enforcement process in Vanuatu.
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