Tunisia is a signatory of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Paris Convention Regarding Trademarks, as revised in the Hague, London and Stockholm. Tunisia is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization and is a signatory of the UNCTAD agreement on the protection of patent and trademarks. Tunisia has withdrawn from the Madrid Agreement regarding trademarks.
Patent applications are examined by the Patent Office only with regard to form and, while novelty of an invention is examined, merit is not. A patent application, together with the grant of a patent are published in the Official Gazette. Opposition to a patent application must be filed within two months of the date when the application was filed. Applications for the issue of letters patent should be made before the invention has been published, used or otherwise received sufficient publicity to allow it to be put into practice.
The protection period of a patented invention is twenty years from the date on which the patent application was filed. Working of a patent is an official requirement, and must be done for two consecutive years, starting within three years of the date on which the patent application was filed or two years from the date on which the patent was granted. Nominal working of a patent, by way of direct offer or solicitation, is sufficient to meet the standards.
Rights in a patent may be transferred or assigned to third parties, including, by the laws of succession, to heirs.
Designs and industrial models may be protected through registration. There is no novelty examination conducted regarding the application for registration of a design or industrial model. Any interested party who has filed an application with regard to the same or similar design or model may file a request for cancellation of the infringing design or model before a competent tribunal.
A design or industrial model registration is granted for five, ten or fifteen years, beginning on the date the application for registration was filed. The registration of a design or industrial model, as well as its cancellation or assignment, are published in the Official Gazette and entered into the designs register. There are no provisions regarding the compulsory working or licensing of a design or industrial model.
The Tunisian Copyright Law of 1994 determined the Copyright as the right of the owner of the work to have the exclusive right to copy the work in a material form, whatever its type is, and to present his work to the public. The protected work may be it literary, scientific or artistic, whatever its value or the purpose for which it is prepared.
According to Article 18 of the Law, the copyright shall be valid during the author’s lifetime and shall continue for fifty calendar years after the author’s death. The copyright with respect to photographic works is valid, according to Article 19, for twenty-five calendar years as from the date of work completion. The copyrights assignable by sale, wholly or partially, according to Article 22.
The Law establishes the Tunisian Institution for the Protection of Copyright. The Institution has several functions, including the protection of copyright.
Any party which does not respect copyright as defined by the law, shall be obligated to pay damages to the owner of this right. The law also establishes monetary sanctions for violations or infringements. A person who violates the law may be obliged to pay fines ranging from TD 500 to 5,000.
As a result of Tunisia's withdrawal from the Madrid Agreement with regard to trademarks, in 1988, trademark applications thereafter should be filed in Tunisia by anyone interested to protect a trademark right in order to secure his interests and to be availed of the protections under the laws of Tunisia.
Registration is a necessary element to gain protection and is ordinarily issued directly upon filing an application for registration. A trademark registration is valid for fifteen years from the date on which the application for registration was filed. It may be renewed indefinitely for similar periods of time. Tunisia does not require use of a trademark as a condition for maintaining registration.
Tunisia follows the International Classification of goods and services.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)