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What is an opposition?

An opposition is a challenge or objection to the granting of a trademark registration at the trademark office level. Most countries have adopted opposition proceedings as an effective way to enable resolution of disputes over trademark rights and keep the register accurate. Oppositions are filed either before or after a trademark is registered. The public is made aware of a recent filing by publication of the trademark application, which usually opens a certain time period for third parties to file an opposition.

Oppositions are most commonly filed when a party believes that an applied-for mark is unregistrable because it (1) poses a likelihood of confusion with an existing mark, or is (2) merely descriptive; (3) generic; or (4) deceptive. The opposition proceedings are usually governed by procedural rules allowing both parties the submission of arguments and evidence, and the decision is generally issued by a designated board or tribunal belonging to the Trademark Office. Many jurisdictions allow for an appeal against the opposition decision to a higher tribunal or court.

INTA’s position

INTA affirms the importance of establishing opposition proceedings and strongly recommends that governments in countries which do not yet provide for opposition proceedings make the legislative changes required to create and establish opposition proceedings for the benefit of rights owners, the public and the accuracy of the trademark register.

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