The FINANCIAL -- A
total of 4,152 trademarks were registered in Georgia in 2013 by
Sakpatenti, National Intellectual Property Center; out of which 2,975
trademarks were foreign and 1,177 were local. The statistic shows that
there has been an increase in the registration of trademarks in Georgia
as in 2012 just 3,516 trademarks were registered, according to
Sakpatenti. The leading company which has the most trademarks is
Aversi-Pharma, with 298 trademarks. “In general disputes take place
between pharmaceutical companies which often argue over the names of
different medicaments, and also between the tobacco companies which tend
to disagree over the designs and inscriptions on their boxes,” Irakli
Gvaladze, Chairman of Sakpatenti, told The FINANCIAL.
There are many cases when an entity in Georgia registers a brand names of other foreign companies or products and later, sells the license to original holder of the brand.
“If a brand name is not registered in Georgia everyone can register it even if the same name is used by another company operating abroad. Such activities is profitable for local companies, but damages the foreign brand which decides to enter the new market. For example, Georgia had the same problems when Khvanchkara wine was registered by other name in US,” he said.
As Gvaladze said, the most significant dispute they have encountered was between British Petroleum and an inventor. “The inventor thought that BP was using one of his inventions in the implementation of its project. After a lengthy investigation the court found the inventor to be in the wrong.
The top Georgian companies which registered the most trademarks in 2013 are: Aversi-Pharma with 25 trademarks; Tifliski Vini Pogreb - 5 trademarks; Georgian Beer Company - 16 trademarks; Silknet - 6 trademarks; Barambo - 4 trademarks; Justice House - 4 trademarks; and Football Club Dinamo Tbilisi - 6 trademarks.
As for the foreign companies, the most trademarks were registered by: Bridgestone; Carrefour; Q8 (Audi); Swatch Colour Codes; Coco Noir; Schirnhofer; Clarks; CH HC; Massimo Dutti; Guess (phrase: “one world one brand”); and Gerry Weber.
The leading categories which have the most trademarks are Pharmacy, Alcoholic Beverages, Non Alcoholic Beverages, Banking Sector, Communications, Confectionery, and Food Products. In each category there are the leading companies which registered the majority of trademarks such as Aversi-Pharma with 298 trademarks, Tifliski Vini Pogreb with 27 trademarks, Lomisi - 52 trademarks, Bank of Georgia - 37 trademarks, Geocell - 22 trademarks, Barambo - 33 trademarks, and Sante GMT Products - 17 trademarks.
“The registration of trademarks is linked to the companies’ activities and economic situation in general,” Irakli Gvaladze, Chairman of Sakpatenti, told The FINANCIAL. “During the period of the Russian-Georgian war and world economic crisis the number of registered trademarks decreased but since 2010 it has been increasing again gradually. A trademark is very important to a business or organization because the general public identifies the mark with the provider of the good or service. This means the general public equates the mark with the reputation of the goods and services. An enterprise’s trademark can frequently be its most valuable asset. By registering a trademark, the public is served a constructive notice that the mark is being used and that other people should not use a confusingly similar trademark to sell similar goods or services,” he added.
A trademark is a sign or combination of signs that may be represented graphically and is capable of distinguishing the goods or services or both of one undertaking from those of other undertakings. The sign may be a word or words, including proper names, letters, figures, sounds, a design or a three-dimensional figure, including the shape of goods or their wrapping and also other packaging, including colours or combinations of colours. There are some restrictions while registering a trademark. It is prohibited to register a trademark which contains religious or immoral themes according to Georgian legislation.
The fees are approved in GEL, equivalent to USD, accordingly, resident individuals make payments in GEL, equivalent to USD. For trademark registration it is necessary to pay USD 420. The resolution provides for discounts in fees, namely: inventors and designers enjoy a 70% discount, and students, pupils and retired applicants - a 90% discount. The discounts will apply only in the case of attaching to the application materials a document certifying that the applicant is a student, a pupil or a retired person.
The validity term of a trademark’s registration is defined by ten years, and is counted from the date of the trademark’s registration with Sakpatenti. The validity term of the trademark’s registration can be extended by ten years each time, without any time-limit.
“The price depends on which class or classes the customer wants to register the trademark in. There is a nine month period of time from making the application to registering a trademark. So the customer can pay gradually. Also we offer expedited service as well which costs USD 800. Mostly, Georgian companies prefer not to wait and make a registration as soon as possible,” Gvaladze said.
There were 205 disputes in 2013, according to the preliminary data of Sakpatenti. The number of appeals filed in 2012 with the Chamber of Appeals was 154, out of which 135 were considered. Mostly the companies were in dispute over trademarks as the statistic shows that out of 154 filed appeals 150 were precisely about trademarks.
Out of 135 considered appeals, 99 were satisfied and 34 refused.
Q. As well as the activities regarding trademarks, which are the most important activities that Sakpatenti is implementing?
A. In cooperation with the Government, Sakpatenti is working on an IT Incubator project which is being created in support of start-ups in the IT sphere. We have arranged a special office for those who have innovative ideas in the IT sphere and need support to implement them. The office is arranged in accordance with the Google Office concept. We are already accepting applications. The experts will select those applicants whose ideas will be the most beneficial for business in Georgia. The ideas could be about mobile applications, or interesting games such as History of Georgia for example. A total of 25 places are allocated for 15 projects. The main interest for us is to develop the IT sphere in Georgia. The Government intends to train 20,000 specialists in the IT direction. As Georgia does not have natural resources developing intellectual property is vital for it. Many young people will be employed which will give more income to the country and positively affect the economy in turn.
Also, Sakpatenti created a new intellectual property rights (IPR) electronic registration system. The new system represents a web-based electronic registration and management system for intellectual property objects allowing right-holders and applicants unhindered and cost-effective IPR registration and maintenance. This product is unique and not many countries are lucky enough to have it.