Trademark Academy

How can I raise opposition against somebody else's trademark?

Trademarks play a crucial role in branding and distinguishing products or services in the market. However, there are instances where individuals or businesses may find it necessary to oppose the registration of someone else's trademark. Whether due to conflicts with existing rights or concerns about the trademark's validity, raising opposition requires careful consideration and adherence to legal procedures.

Understanding Trademark Opposition

Trademark opposition is a legal process that allows third parties to challenge the registration of a trademark. This opposition can be based on various grounds, including absolute grounds (related to the trademark itself) and relative grounds (related to existing rights or trademarks). By opposing a trademark, individuals or businesses seek to protect their own interests or prevent the registration of a potentially conflicting mark.

Grounds for Opposition

  1. Absolute Grounds:

      Descriptiveness: If the trademark is descriptive of the goods or services it represents, it may be opposed on the grounds that it lacks distinctiveness.Generality: A trademark that is generic for the goods or services it covers may be opposed, as it does not fulfill the requirement of being capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one party from those of others.Non-Distinctiveness: Trademarks that are not inherently distinctive and do not serve as a source identifier may be opposed on the grounds that they should be available for use by all in the relevant trade.

  2. Relative Grounds:

      Conflicts with Existing Rights: Opposition may be raised if the trademark conflicts with existing trademarks or rights owned by the opponent. This could include trademarks that are similar or identical to those already in use.

Timing and Procedure

  1. Filing a Notice of Opposition:

      The first step in opposing a trademark registration is filing a formal notice of opposition with the relevant trademark office or authority. This notice typically needs to be filed within a specified period after the publication of the trademark application.

  2. Response and Counter-Statement:

      Upon receiving the notice of opposition, the trademark applicant is usually given an opportunity to respond by filing a counter-statement within a prescribed timeframe. This allows both parties to present their arguments and evidence.

  3. Evidence Submission:

      Following the exchange of the notice of opposition and the counter-statement, both parties may submit evidence to support their respective positions. This evidence may include documents, witness statements, or other relevant materials.

  4. Hearing and Decision:

      After the evidence submission stage, a hearing may be scheduled where both parties present their cases before a decision-maker, such as a trademark examiner or a tribunal. The decision-maker will assess the evidence and arguments presented and make a decision regarding the trademark registration.

Costs and Legal Considerations

Opposing a trademark registration may involve various costs, including filing fees, legal expenses, and potential costs associated with gathering evidence. The total cost of opposing a trademark registration may range from several hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the specifics of the case and the level of representation required. It is essential for individuals or businesses considering opposition to assess the potential costs and benefits, as well as the likelihood of success based on the available evidence and legal arguments.

Frequently asked questions