Once an application for the registration of a patent is filed, it is examined as to form only. The Tunisian Patent Office does not carry out any examination as to novelty or merit of the invention.

A patent application is published in the Al-Muwassafat quarterly gazette published by the Institut National de la Normalisation et de la Propriete Industrielle (INNORPI), together with a summary of the contents thereof. The grant of a patent is also published. An opposition to the grant of a patent may be lodged within two months as from the date of publication of the application. There are no provisions in the law as to appealing the decisions of the Registrar.

The provisions of the Patent Law in Tunisia stipulate that a patent application should be filed before the invention has been published, or used, or has otherwise received sufficient publicity to allow it to be put into practice either in Tunisia or abroad.

A patent is valid for twenty years as from the date of filing the patent application. Annuities are payable as from the date of filing, either before or after the grant of the patent. All unpaid annuities are collected with a retroactive effect upon the grant of the patent, if they were not paid earlier. A late fine, which may be calculated at the rate of 8% of the due annuity, is payable when the annuity is paid within the 6 months grace period, per annuity and per month.

The right to a patent may be assigned or transferred through succession. The assignment of patent applications and granted patents must be made in writing. An assignment shall have no effect against third parties unless it has been entered in the relevant records of the Patent Office.

Working of patents in Tunisia is an official requirement. Working must be effected within three years as from the date of filing or two years as from the date of the grant of the patent and must not be interrupted for two consecutive years. Nominal working by means of direct offer or advertisement is sufficient.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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