Hungarian trademarks may be obtained by direct filing with the Hungarian Patent Office or via the International route. European Community Trademarks are also valid in Hungary.
We offer full range services in trademark matters both before the Hungarian Patent Office and before the Office of Harmonisation for the Internal Market (OHIM) registering Community trademarks in the European Union.
Requirements for protection
The requirements for obtaining trademark protection in Hungary and in the European Union are substantially the same.
A trademark protection can be obtained for signs capable of being represented graphically provided that such signs are capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings. Such signs may be for example letters, numerals, words, word combinations, slogans, figures, pictures, 2- or 3-dimensional forms, including shape of goods or of their packaging. colours, light signals, holograms, sound signals, etc.
Trademarks are registered for goods or service in relation to which the trademarks are intended to be used. The list of the goods or services in respect of which the registration is requested must be indicated at the time of filing the trademark application.
Exclusion from protection
Absolute grounds of refusal:
The followings cannot be registered:
- trademarks which are devoid of any distinctive character;
- trademarks which consist exclusively of signs or indications serving to designate the goods or services that they are to be used in connection with (e.g quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin, etc.)
- trademarks which consist exclusively of signs or indications which have become customary in the current language or in the bona fide and established practices of the trade;
- signs which consist exclusively of:
(i) the shape which results from the nature of the goods themselves;
(ii) the shape of goods which is necessary to obtain a technical result;
(iii) the shape which gives substantial value to the goods;
- trademarks which are contrary to public policy or to morality;
- trademarks which could deceive the public, for instance as to the nature, quality or geographical origin of the goods or service;
- trademarks the use of which have not been authorised by the competent authorities (e.g. symbols of a state);
- if the trademark was applied for in bad faith.
Relative grounds of refusal:
Trademarks will also not be registered if there is a risk or confusion with an earlier trademark owing to the identity or similarity of the signs or the identity or similarity of the goods or services. Trademarks must also respect other earlier intellectual property rights (e.g. copyright or design) as well as earlier use of a non-registered mark in the course of trade.
Scope of protection
The trademark protection confers on its proprietor the exclusive right to use the trademark. The proprietor is thus entitled to prevent all third parties not having his consent from using an identical or highly similar sign in the course of trade in relation to identical or similar goods or service if a likelihood of confusion exists on the part of the public.
The scope of protection of trademarks with a reputation extend to non-similar goods and services as well, if use of the sign would take unfair advantage of the repute of the trademark. The same prohibition applies if the use of the sign would be detrimental to the distinctive character or the repute of the trademark.
Term of protection
Trademark protection has a term of 10 years calculated from the filing date of the application. The term of protection may be renewed for further periods of 10 years. The number of times a trademark can be renewed is not limited, hence trademark protection may last for any length of time as opposed to every other type of industrial property right.
The procedure of the HIPO and the OHIM are very similar. Both the HIPO and the OHIM examine the trademark for absolute grounds of refusal (e.g. lack of distinctiveness, capacity to deceive the public, etc.) and if no absolute ground of refusal is found a search is performed for prior trademark rights. Proprietors of the prior trademark rights are informed about the later application automatically by the OHIM, and upon fee payment by the HIPO.
Following the search the trademark application is published, and a period of 3 months is available for third parties to oppose the patent application based on any relative ground of refusal. Prior rights (trademarks, intellectual property rights, non-registered marks) may only be invoked by the proprietor of such a right. Opposition is a contentious proceedings with a single appeal forum in case of Community trademarks and a two-instance appeal court in case of Hungarian trademarks.
If there is no opposition or the opposition is rejected the trademark is registered.
Obligation of use
The trademark must be used in connection with the goods or services in respect of which it is registered. Such use must start within five years, and must not be interrupted for a period of more than five years. If the obligation of use is not complied with the trademark can be cancelled.
The validity of a Community trademark or a Hungarian trademark can be contested any time after its grant. Relative grounds of refusal can only be invoked by the proprietor of an earlier right.