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Serbia makes small but notable IP improvements every year, and 2017 was no different, say Vladimir Marenovic and Nikola Kliska of Živko Mijatovic and Partners.
The most important changes in the IP field relate to the harmonisation of the legal framework with EU regulations. IP has a significant position in the negotiations, since the whole chapter of the acquis is designated to this field.
New amendments to laws regulating copyright, trademarks, patents and protection of topographies of semiconductor products have been proposed. The Law on the Efficient Protection of Intellectual Property Rights is also expected to be amended, while a new Intellectual Property Protection Strategy for the period 2017–2021 has been prepared. Unfortunately, none of these acts has reached the Parliament yet. The proposed strategy is losing its significance, since the important part covered by it has already lapsed (the whole of 2017).
The amendments are mostly technical and are not intended to introduce structural changes. Furthermore, there is a consensus within the professional community that changes are welcome. The problem lies in the fact that the competent ministry is also responsible for education, and it has put the focus on that field for the moment. The situation should change in 2018.
Positive developments are still visible, however. A huge step towards the cooperation of all administrative bodies has been made in the form of the adoption of the new Law on Administrative Procedure (applied since mid-2017), which envisages a formal coordination mechanism between the relevant administrative bodies.
We expect that the implementation of these new rules should speed up handling of cases related to filing of customs and market inspection applications, as well as in future cases of seizures of counterfeit goods.
There are positive examples of anti-counterfeiting administrative procedures available in Serbia. Namely, brand owners in the country have a specific legal tool when it comes to the protection of their rights in the internal market.
They are entitled to set up an application which enables them to seize counterfeits using the resources of the Market Inspectorate. This tool is similar and complementary to border protection, but it is applicable to goods which are already in trade on the local market.
As an example of this proactive approach, several hundred raids were made across the country in 2017 on the basis of a suspicion that IP rights were infringed, and more than 50,000 items were seized. Most of the goods were destroyed ex officio, and the brand owners did not have to cover the costs of such destruction.
Administrative bodies are already maximising their efforts in implementing and improving the existing e-platforms in order to ensure more efficient and transparent work. Introduction of new technologies is expected in 2018 and sale of counterfeit goods on e-market places will be specially targeted.
The courts in Belgrade have exclusive jurisdiction of IP rights matters in Serbia. Some positive developments are visible in the efficiency of the younger generation of judges, so first instance litigation proceedings can be finalised in six months. An increase of awareness in terms of parallel imports is also noticeable.
Each year Serbia makes small steps forward, but those steps are visible. Each year these steps enable brand owners to enforce their IP rights more efficiently.
Vladimir Marenovic and Nikola Kliska are attorneys-at-law at Živko Mijatovic and Partners.
They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
WIPR Leaders, Serbia trademark law, Serbia anti-counterfeiting, Vladimir Marenovic, Nikola Kliska, Živko Mijatovic and Partners.