Trademark Interference Proceeding in Israel

In case two applicants apply for an identical or similar trademark, the Trademark Office may initiate what is called an “interference proceeding”, where the parties attempt to reach an agreement that will enable both of them to co-exist in regards to their trademark. If no such agreement has been reached, each party will be forced to try and convince the Trademark Office that their application is the one entitled to be registered.  
“Rival Applications for similar marks
29. (a) Where separate applications are made by different persons to be registered as proprietors respectively of identical, or similar to a misleading degree, trademarks in respect of the same goods or goods of the same trade description, and the later application was filed before the acceptance of the prior application, the Registrar may refrain from accepting the applications until their respective rights have been determined by agreement between them approved by the Registrar. In the absence of such agreement or approval, the Registrar shall decide, for reasons which shall be recorded, which application shall continue to be processed pursuant to the provisions of this Ordinance” (Section 29 to The Trademarks Ordinance of 1972). 

What are the stages of an Interference proceeding?

Under this section, the applicant may either attempt to negotiate and reach an agreement with the applicant of the rival application for coexistence of both trademarks or challenge the examiner’s decision by filing a response arguing against similarity between the marks.

If an agreement between both applicants is reached, the agreement must be submitted for approval by the Trademark Commissioner.

In the case an agreement is not reached or the examiner rejects applicant’s arguments against similarity between the marks, a Rival Claims Proceeding is initiated wherein each of the parties is required to submit evidence in support of preferring registration of its trademark over the rival trademark.

The evidence should be supported by an affidavit by the relevant person in the applicant and may also include an expert opinion.

The proceeding also includes an oral hearing in which the persons signing the affidavits are cross-examined by the adverse party, and filing of summation thereafter.

The proceeding is decided based on three factors (the last two are of greater importance): (1) the filing date of each application (2) filing of the application in good faith (3) extent of use of the mark and reputation acquired in it. Among the three, the last two are considered to be the registrar’s main examinations.

Summation – At the end of the hearing, each party is required to present its summation, the objector being the first and the applicant follows. However, the Registrar may allow the parties to file their summations in writing at a later date.

Decision – After both parties have presented or submitted their summations, the Registrar issues a decision concerning the registration of the trademark.

An Appeal

The decision of the Registrar may be appealed to the District Court within thirty days of the date of the Registrar’s decision. The appellant shall deliver to the Registrar notice of having filed an appeal within thirty days of its filing. On the appeal, the court shall hear the Registrar, if so requested.

Concurrent Use

Where it appears to the Registrar that there is honest concurrent use, or where there are other special circumstances which in his opinion justify the registration of identical or similar trade marks for the same goods or description of goods by more than one proprietor, the Registrar may permit such registration subject to such conditions and limitations, if any as he may think fit.
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