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The validity of trade marks can be challenged post-registration and that is one good reason why it is essential to enlist professional support in protecting them. In a case on point, the Cypriot authorities had their own disorganisation to blame after they were stripped of a trade mark for halloumi cheese.
The Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Tourism of the Republic of Cyprus registered 'halloumi' as a trade mark in 2002. The mark formed a vital part of its regulatory role in ensuring the quality of the speciality Cypriot cheese and in certifying producers. In 2017, however, a company that specialised in importing Cypriot foodstuffs to the UK applied to the Registrar of Trade Marks to have the mark invalidated or revoked.
The Registrar's office informed the Ministry that it had two months to respond to the company's application. When no such response was forthcoming, the Ministry was given another 14 days to comply. After that deadline also came and went, the Registrar automatically cancelled the trade mark. The Ministry's application for a retrospective extension of time was subsequently rejected.
In challenging the cancellation, the Ministry argued that it had taken some time for communications from the Registrar to reach the appropriate decision maker. A letter informing it of the 14-day deadline had reached the correct department on the same day as the notice of cancellation was received.
In dismissing the Ministry's appeal, however, the High Court found that the Registrar's application of the time limits contained within the Trade Marks Rules 2008 was unimpeachable. The Ministry's internal procedures were so disorganised that letters from the Registrar had passed from official to official without any action being taken. In those circumstances, the Ministry was the author of its own misfortune.