What are the stages in an Opposition proceeding?
Stage 1: Filing a Notice of Opposition/Filing a Counter-Statement
Any person wanting to oppose a mark can do so by filing a Notice of Opposition on the prescribed form along with the prescribed fee within four (4) months of advertisement of the mark. It is first sent to the Registry for review and if all the formalities are met, the Registry will then serve the notice on the other party.
A counter-statement or reply to the opposition must be filed within two (2) months. There is no extension to file a counter-statement which means that if the Trademark Applicant fails to file a counter-statement within two (2) months of receiving the Notice, the mark shall be deemed abandoned. The counter- statement is first sent to the Registry for review and if all the formalities are met, the Registry will then serve the counter-statement on the Opponent.
Stage 2: Filing of Evidence in support of Opposition
Within two months (extendable by one (1) month of receiving the counter-statement, the Opponent has the choice of providing evidence in support of his opposition in form of an Affidavit to strengthen the case. The Opponent can choose to waive filing an Affidavit if he wants to rely on the facts stated in the notice of opposition. Whatever maybe the choice, the Opponent has to inform the Officials and the other party within the prescribed time otherwise the opposition will be tagged as abandoned.
Stage 3: Filing of Evidence in support of Counter- Statement
Within two (2) months of receiving evidence/intimation of waiver by the Opponent, the Applicant has to file evidence in support of his counter-statement /application. The Applicant also has an option to waive his right to submit any evidence.
Stage 4: Filing of Evidence in Reply
Within one (1) month of receiving evidence/waiver, the Opponent again has the option to file additional evidence in support of his opposition. This option is given to achieve some sort of finality in the proceedings, to rebut the evidence produced by Applicant.
Stage 5: Hearing
Ordinarily with three (3) months of the completion of evidence, a hearing is appointed and the parties are notified. After hearing the parties and considering the evidence, the Registrar shall decide whether the trademark is to be accepted or not.