This country-specific Q&A provides an overview of Intellectual Property laws and regulations applicable in Cyprus.
What different types of intellectual property rights exist to protect: (a) Inventions (e.g. patents, supplementary protection certificates, rights in trade secrets, confidential information and/or know-how); (b) Brands (e.g. trade marks, cause of action in passing off, rights to prevent unfair competition, association marks, certification marks, hallmarks, designations of origin, geographical indications, traditional speciality guarantees); (c) Other creations, technology and proprietary interests (e.g. copyright, design rights, semiconductor topography rights, plant varieties, database rights, rights in trade secrets, confidential information and/or know-how).
ΑPatentis an exclusive right granted over inventions that concern innovative products, innovative procedures/processes, new methods, new materials etc. In order for an invention to be protectableunder the national Patents Law 16(I)/1998 (as amended) (hereafter the “Patents Law”), it must be new, involve an inventive stepand be applicable in industry.
Supplementary Protection Certificate (SPC) are also available in Cyprus.
Confidential information can be protected by way of contract which can be validly enforceable under Cyprus law or under the common law principles of breach of confidence.
With regard to trade secrets, these are also protected under the general framework of the common law rules governing confidentiality andalso by the EU Directive (2016/943) for the protection of trade secrets. The said directive has not yet been transposed into Cyprus national law, but it is expected to be transposed within the year.
Trademarksconsist of any sign over a distinctive sign, such as a word, name, shape, image, sound, colour etc or any combination thereof that can by their nature distinguish the goods or services of a company from those of other companies, provided that this mark is used or intended to be used for the purposes of such distinction.The national law which governs trademarks is the Trademarks Law, Cap. 268 (as amended) (hereafter the “Trademarks Law”).Unregistered rights in trademarks are also protected under the tort of passing off under Article 35 of the Cyprus Civil Wrong Law which is a codification of the English τort of passing off.
In addition, European Trademarks are recognized and though the EU Trademarks Directive (2015/2436) has not yet been transposed into national law a new draft bill is under preparation which will significantly change the Trademarks Law and align the same with the European directive. It is anticipated that the new law will be enacted imminently.
Copyright is an automatic right which protects, amongst others, literary, audio-visual, musical, theatrical and other artistic works. Under the Cyprus Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Law (59/76) (as amended) (hereafter the “Copyright Law”), copyright, provided that it meets the prerequisites, gives the beneficiary the exclusive right of exploitation of the work without any requirement for registration.
Industrial Designs protect the outer appearance of a product or part of a product. Under the Industrial Designs and Models Law (4(I)/2002) (hereafter the “Designs law”), in order for a design or model to be registrable, it must be novel and have individual character.
The competent authority for IPmatters in Cyprus is the Intellectual and Industrial Property Department of the Registrar of Companies and Official Receiver (hereafter the “Registrar”).
What is the duration of each of these intellectual property rights? What procedures exist to extend the life of registered rights in appropriate circumstances?
Patents grant exclusive exploitation rights for a period of 20 years from the filing date of the application (which under an SPC may be extended up to 25).
Trademarks are registered and are valid for an initial period of 7 years from the date of registration and are indefinitely renewable.
Copyright duration depends on the type of work that is protected but has a maximum of up to 70 years from the author’s date of death.
Industrial designs are valid for an initial period of 5 years from the filing date, renewable for 4 terms, i.e. for a maximum of 25 years.
Who is the first owner of each of these intellectual property rights and is this different for rights created in the course of employment or under a commission?
Patents: The first owner of a patent is the inventor or his/her lawful heirs. However, as per Article 11 of the Patents Law, an invention made pursuant to the execution of a commission or during the course of one’s employment, belongs to the person commissioning the work or the employer respectively, unless there are contractual arrangements to the contrary.
Trademarks: The first owner of a trademark is the natural or legal person who first acquires in good faith the rights to the mark, either by reason of first use (for unregistered trademarks) or by reason of registration thereof (for registered trademarks).
Copyright: Copyright shall vest initially in the author of the work except in cases where the work is commissioned under a contract of service and in cases where the work is made in the course of the author’s employment, in which case the rights shall be transferred to the employer subject to any contractual arrangements to t
Industrial designs: The first owner of an industrial design is the creator of the design or his or her assignee, the joint creators of the design, or the commissioner of the design.
Which of the intellectual property rights described above are registered rights?
Patents, trademarks, and industrial designs can be registered in Cyprus, at the Office of the Registrar. The applications must necessarily be filed by a duly licenced Cyprus attorney, who must hold a valid Authorisation of Agent in his name.
Who can apply for registration of these intellectual property rights and, briefly, what is the procedure for registration?
Patents: The inventor or his or her successor in title, for example, an assignee (natural person or legal entity) or the joint inventors, where applicable, are entitled to apply for protection of their invention by way of a national patent. An application is submitted to the Registrar, who then examines it regarding formalities, and provided it meets the requirements of the Patents Law, it is sent to the European Patent Office with the analogous fee for conducting the search report, which, upon being studied by the submitter and provided that the invention is registrable, is filed with Registrar.
Trademarks: An application for registration for a national trademark may be is filed at the Registry. Provided the application complies with the Trademarks Law criteria, it is published in the Official Gazette, after which a 2-month period is given for third party oppositions. Provided that no objection is submitted or if the objection is finally revoked or dismissed, the Registrar proceeds with the filing of the trademark
Industrial designs: Applications for the registration of industrial designs are filed with the Registrar and must include details regarding the product or products into which the design will be incorporated and representations of the design.
How long does the registration procedure usually take?
Patents: The registration procedure for a patent is usually around 18 months from the filing and/or priority date.
Trademarks:The registration of a trademark normally takes between 6 and 9 months from the filing date though this may be extended in the event the Registrar raises preliminary objections or in the event of opposition proceedings.
Industrial Designs: The Certificate of Registration of the design is issued within approximately 4 months from the filing date of the application, provided that all the formal requirements have been complied with.
Do third parties have the right to take part in or comment on the registration process?
An opposition procedure before the Registry is only available as against trademark applications. An opposition can be filed within 2 months from the date of publication of the mark in the Official Gazette. Once an opposition is filed, opposition proceedings are initiated. Evidence is submitted in the form of affidavit evidence and both sides are given the opportunity to submit in writing their legal argumentation in support of their respective positions.
What (if any) steps can the applicant take if registration is refused?
All decisions of the Registrar regarding patents, trademarks and designs are considered administrative decisions and can be appealed by way of an administrative recourse before the Administrative Court of the Republic of Cyprus within 75 days from the date of the Registrar’s decision. The decision of the Administrative Court is subject to a further final appeal before the Supreme Court of Cyprus.
What are the current application and renewal fees for each of these intellectual property rights?
The application for granting of a national patent is submitted, to the Registrar, accompanied by the filing fee of €230 including the cost for the issuance of a registration certificate.
The official annuity fees are payable annually from the third year as follows:
3rd protection year50,00
4th protection year60,00
5th protection year80,00
6th protection year100,00
7th protection year120,00
8th protection year140,00
9th protection year160,00
10th protection year180,00
11th protection year200,00
12th protection year240,00
13th protection year280,00
14th protection year320,00
15th protection year360,00
16th protection year420,00
17th protection year480,00
18th protection year540,00
19th protection year600,00
20th protection year660,00
It is noted that a surcharge of 25% of the renewal amount is paid for every month or part of a month of delay (in case of renewal within 6 months of expiry of the preceding protection period).
The official fee for the filing of a trademark application is €150including the cost for the issuance of a registration certificate.If the trademark covers goods/services falling into different classes, then, for the same mark, separate applications must be filed for each class.it must be noted that the anticipated new Trademarks Law will, amongst other changes, permit the filing of multi-class applications.
The official renewal fees are €80 per trademark.
The official fee for the filing of a design application is €85,43 plus an additional fee of €51,26 for the protection for the first 5-year term.
Renewal fees are paid every five-year period as per the following:
2nd term of 5 years 85,43
3rd term of 5 years 136,69
4th term of 5 years 170,86
5th term of 5 years 256,29
What are the consequences of a failure to pay any renewal fees and what (if any) steps can be taken to remedy a failure to pay renewal fees?
Patents: Failure to pay the renewal fee within the prescribed period will lead to annulment of the patent. A request can be submitted within 18 months of the expiry date for the restoration of the patent.
Trademarks:If the renewal is not made by the due date, the Registrar proceeds to publish a notice in the Official Gazette of the Republic that the mark shall be deleted from the Register if the renewal fee is not paid within the 2 month period from the date of publication of the notice. After that, it is still possible to take steps for the reinstatement of the trademark.
Industrial Designs:The registration will lapse. Renewal fees must be paid within the 3-month period prior to the lapse of registration though in the event of non-payment, the owner has a further period of 6 months after the expiration of the registration during which the renewal fee can be paid.
What are the requirements to assign ownership of each of the intellectual property rights described above?
After the filing of an application for a patent or the grant of a patent, the beneficiary can assign their rights arising out of the patent application or the patent.
A registered trademark may be assigned with or without the goodwill of the business, and in respect of all or part of the goods or services for which it is registered.
An assignment may be recorded by filing the relevant form, accompanied by the deed of assignment and an authorisation of agent.
Copyright may only be assigned by way of an assignment agreement in writing, entered into between the assignor and assignee.
Is there a requirement to register an assignment of any of these intellectual property rights and, if so, what is the consequence of failing to register?
The Register must be kept updated as regards the assignment of registered IP rights. Although there is no strict deadline for recording an assignment, it is essential to do so the soonest to ensure the assignee can enforce at any time his rights without any complications. Further, it is important to keep the Registrar updated to avoid missing any notifications sent by the Registrar to the registered proprietor’s recorded address, regarding renewals or other important matters.
What are the requirements to licence a third party to use each of the intellectual property rights described above?
Patents: A patent rightsholder may grant a licence to use their rights by way of contractual arrangement. As regards compulsory licences, Article 49 of the Patents Law provides that at any time after the expiration of 4 years from the date of the grant of a patent any person may apply for and obtain under certain conditions, a compulsory licence under a patent.
Trademarks: A trademark owner may licence his/her trademarks pursuant to a contractual agreement. A grant of such a licence must be notified to the Registrar through the filing of the relevant form, accompanied by the relevant licencing documentation and must stipulate the nature of the licence, its duration and its specifications.
Copyright: Exclusive licences in relation to copyright must be granted by way of written licence agreements.
Industrial Designs: Registered rights over an industrial design can be licenced by way of written contractual arrangement for consideration and a limited period of time to a third party.
Is there a requirement to register a licence of any of these intellectual property rights and, if so, what is the consequence of failing to register?
The registration of licences is not compulsory and does not affect the validity or enforceability of the licence. Registered trademark and registered design licences may be recorded on the respective Registers. There is no procedure for the registration of patent licences on the Cyprus Patent Register.
The most important advantage of recording a licence as against a registered trademark, is the express statutory recognition of the use by the registered user as amounting to use by the registered proprietor.
Are exclusive and non-exclusive licensees given different rights in respect of the enforcement of the licensed IP, and if so, how do those rights differ?
Under the Copyright Law, an exclusive licencee has the same rights as the author. This includes the right to sue for infringement of copyright. There are no equivalent express provisions covering other IP rights, but the terms of a licence may grant enhanced rights to licencees (particularly in case of exclusive licensees).
Are there criminal sanctions for infringement of any intellectual property rights, and if so, what are they and how are they invoked?
The Copyright Law provides specific criminal sanctions for violation of copyrights under Article 14 which sets out a range of criminal offences that carry penalties including monetary fines or imprisonment for a term up to 4 years.
Monetary fines and imprisonment can be imposed for failure to comply with a court order following a finding of infringement of IP.
In addition, the Law on the Control of Movement of Goods which violate intellectual property rights (61(I)/2018), provides for specific offenses.
What other enforcement options are available for each of the intellectual property rights described above? For example, civil court proceedings, intellectual property office proceedings, administrative proceedings, alternative dispute resolution.
Α rightsholder may file a civil action for infringement of his registered IP rights under the relevant applicable law.
As regards trademarks, action can also be taken under the tort of passing off.
Administrative proceedings are also available for enforcement pursuant to the Customs laws see below.
What is the length and cost of such procedures?
Length: On average 4-7 years before a first instance decision is issued in the main legal action for infringement of an IP right. For interim procedures, the timeline is approximately 6 to 9 months from the date of application until the date the order is granted, or other interim ruling is issued. An ex-parte interim injunction may be issued within a few days from the date of filing the relevant application.
Costs: Official Court fees are calculated in accordance with the Court scale used for the specific action. The losing party is usually ordered by the Court to cover the winning party’s legal costs (as these are calculated by the Registrar of the Court in accordance with the applicable Court scale). In practice, costs are significantly higher than the ones calculated by the Registrar of the Court, as such legal costs are usually subject to a prior agreement between the client and the attorney handling the case.
Where court action is available, please provide details of which court(s) have jurisdiction, how to start proceedings, the basics of the procedure, the time to trial, the format of the trial, the time to judgment and award of relief and whether any appeal is available.
District Courts hear all IP cases at first instance, with the exception of patent cases which are heard exclusively by the Supreme Court. The jurisdiction of the Court is established on the basis of either the place where the infringement takes place or where the defendant resides.
An infringement action is usually initiated with the filing of a generally endorsed Writ of Summons, together with an application for interim injunctive relief (if such relief is sought). The inter partes interim injunction procedure is conducted by means of exchange of affidavit evidence by the Parties, followed by the hearing of the application (though if required additional steps may in the meantime be taken, such as an application for leave to file supplementary evidence or for leave to cross-examine a witness etc). On average an inter partes interim application procedure is concluded within 6-9 months from the date of filing the application. This can be appealed before the Supreme Court.
With regard to the main legal action, once the exchange of pleadings procedure is completed (i.e. the filing of the statement of claim, the defence and/or counter-claim, the reply to defence and defence to counter-claim, if any), and following the prescribed procedure for other interlocutory steps (e.g. discovery of documents etc), the case is fixed for oral hearing before the Court. Evidence (including technical evidence and evidence on foreign law) is given by witnesses who must attend the hearing for the purpose of testifying and be cross examined.
A first instance decision in an infringement action is on average issued within 4-7 years from the date of filing the action.
Any final decision of a District Court may be appealed to the Supreme Court of Cyprus.
What customs procedures are available to stop the import and/or export of infringing goods?
Under the Control of Movement of Goods Infringing Intellectual Property Law No. 133(I) of 2006 and the Council Regulation (EU) No. 608/2013 of 12 June 2013 concerning customs enforcement of IP rights, the Customs and Excise Department of the Republic of Cyprus has the exclusive right to carry out checks on goods for which a customs declaration is placed for release for circulation, export or re-export, or when entering or leaving customs where there is a prima facie violation of IP rights. Specifically, the department has the powers to seize goods at their point of entry in/exit from Cyprus and may even destroy the goods on suspicion that there infringe IP rights.
Cyprus Customs Authorities are also authorized to conduct searches and investigations in the open market with a view to ascertaining whether any goods which are offered for sale to the public are counterfeit.Similar searches are carried out by Customs in the so called “green line” (i.e. the line controlled by the UN and separating the occupied part of Cyprus in the North with the free part of Cyprus) with a view to identifying counterfeit goods.
Are any non-court enforcement options or dispute resolution mechanisms mandatory in respect of intellectual property disputes in any circumstances? If so, please provide details.
The relevant laws in Cyprus do not provide for any mandatory mechanisms in relation to IP disputes.
What options are available to settle intellectual property disputes?
There is no prescribed mechanism for settling IP disputes and this is entirely discretionary upon the parties.
What is required to establish infringement of each of the intellectual property rights described above? What evidence is necessary in this context?
Patents: In accordance with Article 60 of the Patents Law, the producing, offering or using a product incorporating the protected invention or process, by a person other than the rightsholder and without the consent of the rightsholder in relation to a product or process falling within the scope of protection of the patent shall constitute an infringement.
Trademark: The proprietor of a trademark is entitled to forbid any third party from using:
a mark that is identical to the trademark, for goods or services that are identical to those for which the trademark is registered;
a sign identical with that mark for goods or services similar to those for which the mark is registered and to prevent any such use of a sign similar to the mark for goods or services identical or similar to those for which the mark is registered, where because of such identity or similarity there is a likelihood of confusion amongst the public, including the likelihood of association of the sign with the mark.
Furthermore, the owner of a registered trademark with a reputation in Cyprus is entitled to prevent any use in the course of trade in Cyprus of a sign which is identical with or similar to that mark for goods or services not similar to those for which the mark is registered, if such use, without due cause, takes unfair advantage of, or is detrimental to, the distinctive character or the repute of the mark.
Copyright: Under Article 12 of the Copyright Law, copyright shall be infringed by any person who does or causes or permits any other person to do, without the licence of the owner thereof, an act, the doing of which is controlled by copyright.
Industrial Designs: Infringement occurs when a third party uses the design without the consent of the right holder. This includes the manufacture, offer, supply in the market, importation, exporting or use of the product unto which the design has been embodied or applied, as well as the storage of the product bearing the design for the aforementioned purposes.
Passing Off: For the owner to succeed in a passing off action he must establish such association between the mark and the products upon which the mark is used so as to entitle him to use the mark to the exclusion of other manufacturers or traders. The association may be established by wide variety of means including an advertisement campaign. Necessarily whether such an association exists will be a matter of evidence and the extent, length of user and the reactions of the purchasing public will be relevant to this effect. Furthermore, the owner must prove that there is a likelihood of confusion on the part of the ordinary purchaser arising from such imitation of the mark. Lastly, the owner will have to prove that he suffered damages as a result of such imitation and confusion.
How does the court acquire any necessary information (fact or technical) and in what circumstances does it do so? In particular a) Is there a technical judge, a judge with technical experience, a court appointed expert, an expert agreed by the parties, and/or parties’ expert witness evidence? b) What mechanisms are available for compelling the obtaining and protecting of evidence? Is disclosure or discovery available?
Inrelation to IP rights enforcement, there are no technical courts or judges with specific technical experience. In the context of a trial, parties may call expert witnesses to testify before the court (and be cross examined) on technical aspects of a dispute.
In appropriate circumstances, it is possible to apply for and obtain from the Court discovery, disclosure and search orders.
As regards the protection of the confidential nature of certain documents, exhibits submitted in support of filings before the Court are not open to the publicunless special permission is granted by the Court following an application to this effect.
How is information and evidence submitted to the court scrutinised? For example, is cross-examination available and if so, how frequently is it employed in practice?
Legal proceedings under the Court system of the Republic of Cyprus are adversarial. Accordingly, as per the above, witnesses are subject to cross-examination and this is standard practice.
What defences to infringement are available?
Patents: The following grounds can be used as a defence to an allegation of patent infringement:
when the act is carried out privately and not on a commercial scale;
when the act is comprised of the manufacture or the use for purely experimental reasons or for scientific research;
when the act is comprised of a loose preparation in individual cases, in a pharmacy or by a doctor, of medicines in accordance with a prescription or when the acts concern a medicine which is thus prepare.
Trademarks: The most common defences against a trademark infringement action are:
The plaintiff has no title;
The registration is for other reasons invalid;
The plaintiff is debarred from suing the defendant for all or part of the relief he seeks by an agreement or some personal estoppel or because the mark is deceptive, or his business is fraudulent; or
The use complained of is not likely to deceive or cause confusion
Copyright: The following constitute some of the exemptions to copyright infringement: Private use, incidental use, use for research purposes, use by way of explanation, the use of excerpts from works which have been published, reproduction in the press, and presentation to the public of published articles for economic, political or religious matters in current affairs or TV broadcasted works.
Industrial Designs: The following acts do not constitute infringement even if done without the consent of the registered proprietor:
private and non-commercial acts,
acts done for experimental purposes;
reproduction for teaching purposes; and
certain acts in respect of ships or aircraft registered outside Cyprus.
Who can challenge each of the intellectual property rights described above?
Any party may challenge an IP right using the mechanisms detailed above.
When may a challenge to these intellectual property rights be made (e.g. during any registration process or at any time during the subsistence of the right)?
Patents: Following the grant of a patent, any person may file in court an application for the cancellation (on substantive grounds as well as in case where there is an allegation that the patent had been awarded to a person not entitled to it).
Trademark: In addition to the opposition period during registration (see above), once a trademark has been granted, it may be susceptible to a revocation if the mark has not been used for a period of 5 years and there is no reasonable cause for its non-use, following its registration.
Industrial Designs: A registered design may be invalidated by a court decision following the filing of a relevant claim, on either substantive grounds or on the basis of a claim that the design had been granted to a person not entitled to the design.
Briefly, what is the forum and the procedure for challenging each of these intellectual property rights and what are the grounds for a finding of invalidity of each of these intellectual property rights?
Patents: A patent application and/or grant of a patent may be challenged in Court, either on substantive patent law grounds or on the grounds that the patent holder was not entitled to the patent.
Trademarks: A trademark registration may be challenged either before a Court or before the Registrar, as the case may be. This can take the form of a request for cancellation of the trademark e.g. on the basis of non-use or prior rights.
Industrial Designs: A design may be invalidated by a court decision on the basis of the following reasons: on substantive grounds (e.g. the design was not novel), in case where the design clashes with a prior design.
Are there any other methods to remove or limit the effect of any of the intellectual property rights described above, for example, declaratory relief or licences of right?
ThePatents Law provides that any interested person shall have the right to apply to the Court by way of filing an application against the proprietor of a patent for a declaration that the performance of a specific act does not constitute an infringement of the patent.
What remedies (both interim and final) are available for infringement of each of the intellectual property rights described above?
In an infringement action, courts have wide discretion in prohibitive and mandatory granting relief (interim or final), including injunctions on a quia timet basis. Relief by way of preventative search and seizure of infringing materials and anticipatory or interim injunctions, as well as damages, injunctions, delivery of infringing goods, accountsof profits and legal costs are available.
What are the costs of enforcement proceedings and is any kind of costs recovery available for successful parties? Is there a procedural mechanism enabling or requiring security for costs?
Costs: The cost scale of an action to be brought before a Cypriot court is determined by the amount of the claim against the defendant, i.e. the total amount of damages sought thereby.
Pursuant to the applicable Civil Procedure Rules, a plaintiff ordinarily resident outside of Cyprus or a member state of the EU may, at any stage of a pending civil action, be ordered to also give security for costs. The matter rests at the Court’s discretion and regard must be given to:
the existence of any property (movable or immovable) in Cyprus; and
the merits/strength of the defendant’s defence.
In addition, in interim proceedings, if an injunction is obtained on an ex parte basis, then the plaintiff/applicant will be required to put up a security for an amount to be determined by the Court; the value of that amount depends on the circumstances of each individual case and on a number of factors, such as the cost scale of the legal action in question, the overreaching nature of the interim orders requested and secured, as well as, their impact on the defendant’s rights/business, the standing of the plaintiff/applicant, its nationality or place of registration etc.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic caused any changes (temporary or permanent) to the protection or enforcement of intellectual property? For example, changes to deadlines, filing or evidence requirements or court processes.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictive measures were put in place by the government of the Republic of Cyprus in order to reduce the spread of the virus.The Registrar was closed to the public, special areas had been designated for the submission of documents, and the office hours for such matters were restricted. Where, for reasons related to the pandemic, it was not possible to comply with deadlines, extensions could be requested.
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