IP in Romania: Trademark E-filing Launched in Romania
Published in “CEE Legal Matters”, issue 1
The New Year brought good news for Romanian intellectual property counselors. The Romanian State Office for Inventions and Trademarks (SOIT) introduced the trademark E-filing system. Long awaited by both trademark professionals and common users of the national trademark filing system, the E-filing (web-based) application was developed by SOIT in collaboration with the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) and is aimed at reducing the time involved in filing national Romanian trademark applications. It is both accessible and easy to use.
The E-filing system was developed using feedback from its “end users” – a test group represented by a number of Romanian trademark professionals – who were invited to test the system and provide comments and suggestions with respect to possible flaws or other aspects to be addressed when the system is officially implemented. The pre-testing period, which ended on December 1st, 2013, was followed by the official launch of the system among all intellectual property professionals registered with the Romanian National Patent Chamber, extending the possibility to discover potential errors and gain feedback on the system from a larger audience of informed users. As of February 1st, 2014, the Office has planned to extend the use of the E-filing system also to the Regional Intellectual Property Centers and, afterwards, to further summarize the results of all the reports about the system, both from “external” and “internal” users (including SOIT employees).
The system was designed to be used by anyone who has access to the Internet. It is only available in Romanian and does not require login user credentials. Although it most likely involves certain back-office safety and data protection features, once accessed, it is designed not to go offline or disconnect even if its use is interrupted for a long period of time.
One of the system’s greatest benefits is its 24-hour availability, which provides applicants with the opportunity to file trademark applications at any time, irrespective of SOIT working hours. In addition, the system allows users to locally save their drafted applications onto their personal computers for future use.
Similarly to the electronic filing system available on OHIM’s website for the filing of Community trademarks, the Romanian system allows applicants or their representatives to upload any documents they wish to provide to the authority when filing a national application directly into the system and attach them to the E-filing form, such as: a Power of Attorney, documents regarding a priority right invoked in the application, or documents certifying that the official filing and examination fees have been paid at the time of filing. However, it should be noted that the system only supports .gif files when providing a graphic representation of figurative / combined trademarks.
Although during the testing phase users did face certain errors when uploading .pdf files into the system or when inserting certain information into the electronic application form, SOIT has assured users that such errors will soon be corrected.
The system also involves certain limitations resulting from the application of legal provisions currently in force in Romania with respect to the trademark registration procedure and the electronic signature. Thus, to obtain an official regular trademark filing number by using the E-filing system, applicants must provide the Office with the specific information and documents required by law (which are of course also still required if the trademark application is filed via a standard paper-form). Thus, applicants must send the printed application form issued by the filing system and bearing an original signature (and stamp, if necessary) to the Office within 30 days of filing the electronic application. Also, according to the Romanian Law on Trademarks, the Power of Attorney granted by the applicant to its professional representative must be also lodged with the Office, and signed in original, even if a copy was already attached to the electronic application.
Despite these limitations, the E-filing system has been well received by Romanian trademark professionals, and the Office reported in the first week of usage alone that already 10% of the regular national trademark applications were filed using the system. However, since it has just been launched, the system still requires certain features to be amended and it could take a while until the public use of electronic trademark filing becomes well-established.
Therefore, 2014 has started well, and sounds like it’s going to be a good year for intellectual property in Romania.