– Designs Act (No. 3 of 2003), commenced February 8, 2011.
Membership in International Conventions
– Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), since March 2, 2012.
– The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Consular Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (Apostille), successor party since July 30, 1980.
– WTO’s TRIPS Agreement, since August 24, 2102.
Note: not a member of the Paris Convention, but Regulations specify “Convention” countries.
Applicant: the author of the design or his assignee or if a design is made in the course of employment, or made for another person, the employer or the other person respectively is the owner.
Applicants not living in the country: must specify an address for service in Vanuatu.
Unregistered design rights: no provision.
Not registrable: a method or principle of construction of an article that is primarily literary or artistic in character. A design may be registered although it has features which serve a functional purpose.
Novelty: a design must be new and original, and must not differ only in immaterial details commonly used in the relevant trade from a design that was registered, published or used in Vanuatu, or is an obvious adaptation of a design that was registered, published or used in Vanuatu before the priority date.
Novelty grace period: no provision.
Priority: a Convention application may be filed within six months of the date of the first application in a Convention country.
Filing requirements for an application (to be sent to resident agent):
1. The owner’s name, address and local address for service;
2. 3 representations of an article to which the design is applied;
3. For Convention applications, a copy of the first application certified by the Registrar of the country where the first application was made;
4. Prescribed fee.
Amendment of application: the Registrar may permit the amendment of an application to correct clerical errors or obvious mistakes if the application has not yet been published, but will only allow amendments which do not substantially affect the identity of the design once published. The Registrar may on his own initiative amend as above to remove any ground on which the application could be rejected.
Examination: as to formalities, whether use of the design would be likely to deceive or cause confusion, and whether the design is substantially identical with, or deceptively similar to, a design registered by another person or a pending application by another with the same or an earlier priority date. If there is honest concurrent use of the design, or if because of other circumstances it is proper to do so, the Registrar may accept the latter application subject to any conditions or limitations they think fit.
Acceptance of application: the Registrar must accept the application unless it has not been made in accordance with the Act or if there are grounds for rejecting it.
Publication: occurs within twenty-eight days after the application is filed, and when the design has been registered.
Duration: designs are registered for an initial period of ten years from the filing date. Note: for Convention applications the design is taken to have had effect from the filing date of the earliest Convention application.
Renewal: possible for a further period of ten years.
Grace period: the registration may be renewed up to three months after the design has expired.
Marking: is not compulsory but marking with the number and the term “Rd” or “Regd.” is desirable to secure damages or an account of profits in infringement actions.
Assignments and licenses: must be recorded with the Registrar.
Modification of Protection after Registration
Right of prior user: prior public use in Vanuatu will invalidate a design.
Opposition: must be filed within twenty-eight days after details of the application are published in the Gazette. Grounds for opposition are the owner does not own or intend to use the design, it is similar to a design used in Vanuatu and because of the reputation of that other design, the use of the new design would be likely to deceive or cause confusion, or that the application is defective.
Invalidation of design: an aggrieved person may ask the Court to cancel the design or remove or amend an entry in the Register relating to the design. An aggrieved person may seek removal of the design on the ground that it is not being used.
Remedies: an injunction, damages or an account of profits.