The new system is a hybrid of Serbia’s previous full examination system and a new opposition system allowing third-party challenges to trademark applications. It was introduced by the new Trademark Law, which entered into force on February 1, 2020. According to the Serbian IP Office, the system is the result of the necessity to align Serbia’s legislation with the regulations in force in the European Union. The changes in the trademark registration procedure will open a new market in Serbia, offering service providers the chance to shape that market by having a more proactive role.
The adoption of the new law ended the years-long, polarized debate in the relevant public about a possible change in the system. On the one hand, the IP Office and more traditional trademark professionals considered the full examination system safer, more thorough, and more compatible with the Serbian market. They found it a system that generally benefited trademark owners (especially national owners and small and medium enterprises), as well as one that safeguarded the interests of the general public—that is, the consumer. On the other hand, the opposition system provides a more active role for trademark owners. The IP Office has shifted to more of an administrative body that assists applicants in filing procedures but leaves it up to the market to self-regulate. The opposition system also creates space for changes in the market for the protection of IP rights. Existing watch services are presumably ready to enter the new market with competitive prices. On the other hand, IP professionals will need to adapt quickly to the new system and likely will need to be ready to provide new services.
While the change is not too drastic—the IP Office has managed to preserve its role as a public protector—the industry will change significantly. Clients will be able to choose from a number of new service providers to assist them with the management of the trademark portfolios. Also, already established IP offices will have to change their approach to their services. Trademark agents will need to adapt to the new reality and likely need to introduce new services to their practice. This will all bring a new liveliness in a very traditional and predictable market. However, the full scope of the change will be apparent only after some time.
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