Intellectual property legislation includes Law No. 2001-84 of August 2000, on Patents, and Law No. 2001-36 of April 2001, on the Protection of Trademarks, and Law No. 2001-21 of February 2001, on the Protection of Industrial Designs, and Copyright Law, Decree No. 12 of February 1966 as amended in 1967 and by Decree No. 36 of 1994, and Law No. 2001-20 of February 2001, on the Protection of Layout-Design of Integrated Circuits.
Tunisia is a member of WIPO Convention since November 1975. Tunisia is a signatory of the Paris Convention since July 1884, and the Berne Convention as of December 1887, and the Madrid Agreement (False or Deceptive Indications of Source on Goods ) as of July 1892 and the Hague Agreement (International Deposit of Industrial Designs ) as of October 1930 and the NICE Agreement as of May 1967 and Lisbon Agreement (Appellations or Origin) since October 1973, and Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) as of December 2001, and Budapest Treaty ( Deposit of Micro-Organisms) as of May 2004. Industrial Property is under the supervision of the Ministry of Industry and Energy and Copyright and Related matters are under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Leisure.
Applications are examined to ensure formal compliance. Once an application is accepted, it will be published in the Official Gazette. Assignments should be recorded within a period of six months with the Patent Office which would ultimately be published in the Official Gazette. Patent validity term is for twenty years calculated from the filing date. Patent annuities must be paid within the last month of each year during the validity period. A grace period of 6 months is permitted for delayed annuity; however a fine will be imposed. A patent must be put into operation within a period of three years as from the date of grant. Importation of products under the patent are not regarded as an exercise of exploitation. The law does not incorporate a provision for compulsory license as when circumstances permit. Priority could be claimed on the basis of the initial equivalent application filed within 12 months in a member state of the Paris Convention. Infringements acts may be raised by the patentee to the competent court having civil or criminal jurisdiction as the case may be. The relief prayed for depends on the nature of the suit. If it is a criminal suit a court may issue an order amounting to confiscation and destruction of the infringed products. On the other hand, a civil court may enter a judgment including compensation for damages and losses sustained.
Formal filing requirements for a non-PCT application are as follows:
NOTE: As regards countries members of the Paris Convention, priority could be claimed within 12 months from the earliest corresponding application.
Formal filing requirements for a PCT application are as follows:
NOTE: Applications based on International Search article 22, chapter 1 of the PCT enters into Tunisia national phase within twenty (21) months from the date of the priority claim. However those based on an international preliminary examination article 39, chapter 11 of PCT shall enter in Tunisia national phase within 30 months from the date of the priority claim.
Designs are examined as to form to ensure conformity with formal filing requirements. In the event, of acceptance, the notification of approval will be published in the Official Gazette. If the proprietor elects to assign his right in the design, a duly executed deed of assignment must be recorded within a period of six months and hence published in the Official Gazette. A design is valid for a period of 5 years from the filing date and it is renewable for two consecutive similar periods. The owner has the right to institute a suit, if an
Infringement act, representing an encroachment on the patentee’s right has been committed. Relief depends on the type of legal proceedings pursued.
A criminal court may order confiscation and destruction of the infringed products. A civil court’s order may include compensation for damages and losses sustained as a result of the infringement act.
Formal filing requirements.
Tunisia Industrial Property Office will examine application to ensure formal compliance. Once formal compliance is secured, the application will be published in the Official Gazette, and hence the Certificate of Registration will be issued. An interested party may raise an opposition within a period of 60 days. The International Classification of Goods and Services is followed (Nice Classification). The term of validity for a duly registered trademark is 10 years, renewable for similar periods subject to payment of the prescribed fee, nonetheless a period of 3 months grace is allowed. A trademark may be assigned with or without goodwill; however an assignment must be recorded as provided for under the law. Use of a trademark is compulsory within the first five years form the date of filing. A trademark may be cancelled, if an interested third party established cogent grounds showing non-use for a period of 12 months as from the date of filing. Infringements are presided over by the competent civil and criminal courts as the case may be.
Formal filing requirements are as follows:
Note: documents in a language other than French or Arabic must be accompanied with their English translation.
Range and extent of protection.
The copyright law provides protection, among other things, for written works, phonographs and cinematographic films, theatre and musical pieces, television and radio works for publication, paintings, sculpture and architecture, maps and speeches. The Copyright law Decree No. 36 of February 24, 1994 considers software as a literary work and as such a 25 years protection is provided as from the granting date. Protection under the copyright law ends fifty years after the death of the author. However, if the copyrighted substance is owned by a legal entity rather than a natural person, the fifty years protection shall begin on the date the material was first published. The author may assign the rights granted to him subject to prescribed terms and conditions. The National Council for Culture maintains the right to permit publication of the work of art in specific forms as prescribed under the law. Infringements are presided over by the Copyright Tribunal. The Copyright Office undertakes the task of Registration. Yet registration is not obligatory but a registration will be considered as a reliable reference to copyright information.
Formal filing requirements are as follows: