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The fast information flow, the active involvement of undertakings in various and, often, similar to other enterprises, sectors, the growth rate of the number of enterprises at local but also global level, stimulate a healthy competition and create the justified need to the entrepreneurs to distinguish, especially by ensuring the consumer’s loyalty. This relationship of trust between the customer and the company is created and further developed through various ways and means, one of which is the trademark, meaning the distinct mark that either distinguishes the enterprise itself and all its activities either part of the services or/and products of the company concerned. The trademark, in other words, basically works informatively to the consumer with regards to the provenance of the product or the service provider, and as a consequence this distinct mark acquires a certain power in each market, where the products are offered, given the fact that – depending on each consumer’s experience – the image of the company, and especially the real one, is formed in the market.
Each entrepreneur should declare and register their trademark on the one hand to ensure their interests and on the other hand to prevent confusion with other similar, non-registered, and, consequently, unprotected trademarks from the part of the general public. The national, Greek trademark, is regulated and protected pursuant to the provisions of Law 4072/2012 and specifically those of the articles from 121 to 196. According to the provisions of the said Law “Trademark may consist of any sign capable of being represented graphically and distinguishing a company’s products or services from those of another company. It may consist particularly of words, personal names, business names, aliases, representations, designs, letters, numerals, colors, sounds, including musical phrases, the shape of goods or of their packaging and slogans”. In order to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding regarding the definition of the trademark, but also to ensure that any entrepreneur chooses the right trademark, the Law itself places restrictions and prohibitions on the trademark registration. Indicatively, the prohibitions may concern indications or signs referring to a specific geographical origin of a product, which have become customary to the current language and, consequently, their registration is contrary to the public interest, the public policy, and the principles of morality, while special prohibitions concern specific product categories i.e. wines and agricultural products. It is noted that, given the initially mentioned reasons (fast information flow globally, the growth rate of enterprises), the registration of trademarks and their acceptance on behalf of the concerned competent authorities is becoming ever more difficult, due to a plethora of existing trademarks and the difficulty in finding the required distinctness and uniqueness that characterize a trademark.
The procedure of filling of the trademark has been simplified at a national as well as Community and international level. Easily and fast, simply by using your personal computer, you may ensure your company’s interests via electronic submission, with regards to the national trademark by following the instructions as provided on the website: http://gge.gov.gr/, while for the Community trademark at https://oami.europa.eu/ohimportal/el/apply-now and for the international at www.wipo.int. Despite being an easy procedure, it is recommended to seek legal assistance/counsel with regards to the possibility of registering the trademark, before the submission of the application. The registration of a trademark confers on the proprietor’s exclusive rights. Especially confers the right to use it, to affix it on the products that are meant to be distinguished, to characterize the services provided, to affix it on the cover and packaging of goods, on notepapers, on invoices, on price lists, on notices, in advertisements of any kind and other printed matter and to use it in electronic and audiovisual media.
The trademark protection has a ten-year duration and it is renewed for another ten years with the submission of the relative application and the payment of the fees related to the renewal.
It is noted that the proprietor of the trademark may be an Individual as well as a Legal Person.
In order to file a statement for a patent and to obtain a patent, it is required the transition to the Industrial Property Organization (IPO), while you may also visit the website, easily and fast, at www.obi.gr/obi/. According to the provision of the Law, a patent is granted for new inventions, which involve an inventive activity and are susceptible to industrial application. Given the complexity of the right for registering a patent and, consequently, obtaining one, the Law describes in detail and clearly the specific conditions for granting one. Thus, indicatively: They are not viewed as inventions a) discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods, b) artistic creations, c) schemes, rules, and methods for exercising mental activities, for games and for financial activities, as well as for computer programs, d) information presentation. Simultaneously, according to the Law “, an invention is considered new if it does not belong to the state of art. State of art is considered anything is known worldwide via written or oral description or via any other way, before the date of application for granting a patent or the date of priority…. The invention is viewed as susceptible to the industrial application if its object can be produced or used in any sector of industrial activity”.
According to the Law, they are not considered inventions susceptible to the industrial application: a) methods regarding the surgical and medical treatment of the human body and the animals’ bodies, b) diagnostic methods applied to the human body or the animals’ body. These exceptions do not apply to products and especially to substances or formulations used for the application of the said methods.
Due to the particularity of the right concerned and the rare granting of a patent, the Legislator acknowledges the international priority in favor of the applicant. Consequently, if you have applied for the granting of a patent or the issuing of the utility model certificate abroad, you have the right to priority, as long as you apply for the same invention in another country within a period of twelve months from the date of the application said and as long as the condition of reciprocity is in effect. The initial application is also declared in the most recent one, while the right to priority refers to the initial application. The patent granted protects one’s rights for a period of time of twenty years starting from the date of the formal application for the granting of a patent.
The holder of a patent may commercial exploit their patent, by providing to third parties a license of use, while at the same time the patent is by law a freely transferable property right.
UMC (UTILITY MODEL CERTIFICATE)
Close to the definition of the patent is the Utility Model Certificate or otherwise UMC, which is more flexible, as far as the prerequisites are concerned, for the granting of the relevant certificate and for this reason more attractive with regards to the application. According to the Industrial Property Law, the utility models and designs concern new inventions of the human intellect, embodied in a tangible movable object, applicable to technical fields like the inventions in general, giving solutions in technical problems and being, moreover, industrially exploitable. With the granting of the utility model certificate, one enjoys the absolute right, while it is not required, in this regard, the same degree of inventiveness as in the case for the granting of a patent. The UMC is, often, viewed as a particular type of patent. In this case, as in the patent, the element of new is considered a prerequisite, without, nonetheless, the inclusion of the inventive activity to be required.
With regards to the formal requirements, the UMC is granted for every tree-dimensional object with a specific shape and form, like, indicatively, a tool, instrument, device, vessel or/and their component, and it is proposed as new, industrially applicable along with the ability to give solution in technical problems. The Competent Authority for the granting of the Certificate is, the same as in the patent, IPO. If the application for granting the utility model certificate concerns a three-dimensional object and satisfies the requirements, that, according to the Law, are determined by the competent Ministry, the IPO grants the model utility Certificate without prior check regarding the element of new and the industrial applicability of the utility model and under the applicant’s responsibility. The protection provided with the specific Certificates has a seven-year duration.