As we have informed in previous newsletters, the Federal Law for the Protection of Industrial Property will come into force on November 5, 2020 and the same contains several changes having a direct impact on trademark registration invalidity actions. These changes are detailed as follows:
- Regarding invalidity causes of action based on prior use and prior existing registrations, partial invalidity actions are incorporated and regulated but only in connection with the goods and services covered by the trademark registration.
In these cases, it is established that if the Mexican Patent and Trademark Office (IMPI) issues a ruling declaring the partial invalidity of a trademark registration, a marginal record would be included in the registration certificate stating the modifications and the causes generating the same.
It is positive that partial invalidity actions of trademark registrations are declared exclusively in connection with the products or services covered by the trademark registration and not over the elements conforming the marks, considering that such circumstance would constitute an ungrounded sectioning, in violation of the basic likelihood of confusion analyses principles.
Likewise, it is positive that the new Law regulates partial invalidity actions, being the case that such legal figure provides more legal certainty to trademark titleholders, who will not be facing the risk of suffering the loss of their trademark registrations in their entirety, for the mere coincidence or similarity in one of the goods or services covered by the registrations.
- The invalidity cause of action based on false data was completely modified to only sanction now the lack of veracity in the declaration of date of first use contained on the trademark application format and it is expressly indicated that the burden of proof is reverted to the defendant.
This is a positive change because the current invalidity cause of action based on false data is too broad, since it does not specify the data that could generate the invalidation of a trademark registration. Case Law has narrowed the scope of protection by stating that the invalidation of a trademark registration could only be declared if the statements could fall within the genre of information considered as essential to trademark applications.
The date of fist use should be considered as the only essential data having substantial legal implications on trademark applications (date to overcome within an invalidity action proceeding based on prior use or on a defense based on prior use in connection with an infringement action proceeding), thus, limiting the scope of protection of the referred invalidity cause of action should be considered as a wise decision.
Additionally, it is also positive that the burden of proof in connection with the veracity of the data consisting of the date of first use is reverted to the defendant, being the case that recent case law mistakenly concluded that the burden of proof corresponds to the complainant, generating that the current invalidity cause of action is completely useless or meaningless.
- The "bad faith" definition contained in the Law is modified having implications on the invalidity cause of action based on bad faith. Now, it should be understood as bad faith, among other cases, applying for the registration of a sign with the purpose of obtaining an inappropriate benefit or advantage in prejudice of the legitimate owner.
Not introducing a restrictive definition for bad faith is positive and the inclusion of an accurate concept for bad faith should also be considered as a wise decision considering that the definition contained in the current Law is quite ambiguous.
- It is stated that invalidity actions will not be admitted if they are based on the same arguments and evidence submitted in the opposition proceeding already solved by IMPI.
This constitutes an unfortunate change from a legal perspective that will have negative impacts within the Mexican industrial property system, because in those cases in which an opposition has been filed and the same was not successful, it will not be possible to further try to invalidate the conflicting registration using the same arguments and evidence, giving infallibility to IMPI and making meaningless the invalidity causes of action specifically designed to attack registrations granted by error, inadvertence or difference of appreciation.
- The effects of the of the declaration of invalidity of a trademark registration are clearly specified, expressly stating that the invalidity will retroactively destroy the effects of the registration to its granting date.
The effects of the invalidity action of a trademark registration are not expressly specified on the current Law, although they are actually defined by the supplementary legislation. However, the fact that an express provision is included in the new Law stating the effects of the invalidity should be considered as positive, so as to avoid incorrect interpretations that actually were started to be done by our Courts.
Finally, it is important to mention that all the ongoing litigious proceedings will continue its process, and will be decided pursuant to the superseded Industrial Property Law. Moreover, pursuant the transitional articles of the Federal Law for the Protection of Industrial Property, the new invalidity causes of action, can only be brought against the registrations that were applied for and granted under the new Law.
OLIVARES will be keeping you updated regarding the interpretation and criterions derived from these changes once the Law has entered into force.
Originally published by Olivares, August 2020
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.