Trade and Service Marks

– Trademarks Act No. 1 of 2003, in force since February 8, 2011.

Note: Registration of United Kingdom Trademarks Act has been repealed and all marks registered under that Act are now registered under the new Act.

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, 2012.

Note: not a member of the Paris Convention, but Regulations specify “Convention” countries.


Applicant: any person or body of persons, whether incorporated or not, who is using, intends to use, has authorized or intends to authorize another person to use, or intends to assign a mark to a body corporate about to be constituted, may apply. An address for service must be an address in Vanuatu. 

Foreigners and nationals not living in the country: may apply. An address for service in Vanuatu is required. 

Novelty: the mark must not be substantially identical or deceptively similar to a registered or pending mark of another having an earlier priority date, and in relation to similar or closely related goods or services. The Registrar has discretion to accept an application notwithstanding a citation in cases of honest concurrent use or because of other circumstances it is proper to do so, and must accept an application in a case of prior continuous use.

Exceptions to protection: signs prescribed not to be used as or part of a trademark; marks that cannot be represented graphically; marks which do not distinguish the applicant’s goods or services from those of other traders; marks scandalous or contrary to law; marks whose use is likely to deceive or cause confusion.

Priority: can be claimed for applications filed within six months from the date of filing in a Convention country.

Filing requirements for an application (to be sent to resident agent):
1. Power of attorney;
2. A representation of the trademark;
3. A description of the goods and/or services.


Publication: details of each application are published in the Gazette within twenty-eight days after the application is filed. 

Examination: the Registrar must then accept the application, unless satisfied that the application has not been made in accordance with the Act or there are grounds for rejecting it. The applicant is notified of acceptance or rejection.

Acceptance deadline: the application lapses if not accepted within one year of filing, unless an extension is granted. 

Marks involving indigenous culture: are referred by the Registrar to the National Council of Chiefs. Consent of custom owners and an agreement of payment of an equitable share of benefits from use of the mark to the custom owners must be obtained. Consent and agreement with National Council of Chiefs is acceptable if custom owners cannot be identified or dispute with them not resolved. 

Opposition: must be filed within twenty-eight days of publication of acceptance. Grounds include all grounds for rejection during examination i.e., the applicant is not the owner of the mark; the applicant does not intend to use the mark; the mark is similar to a mark that has acquired a reputation in Vanuatu; the mark contains a false geographical indication; the application was accepted on the basis of false representations.


Beginning of protection: registration is deemed to have effect from the date of filing the application.

Duration: ten years.

Renewal: may be made within three months before the registration expires.

Late renewal: may be renewed within three months after the registration has expired. If not renewed, it must be removed twelve months after the day on which it expires.

Assignments: must be recorded.

Use: a trademark may be removed from the Register for non-use.

Infringement – penalties: an action for infringement of a registered trademark may be brought in the court.