A trademark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities.
A trademark is typically a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or a combination of these elements. There is also a range of non-conventional trademarks comprising marks which do not fall into these standard categories, such as those based on color, smell, or sound.
Trademarks in Tonga are designated by the following symbols:
- ™(for an unregistered trademarks, that is, a mark used to promote or brand goods)
- ®(for a registered trademark)
The owner of the registered trademark may commence legal proceedings against trademark infringement of its mark.
|Relevant office||Intellectual Property Office|
Ministry of Trade & Economic Development
|Nice classification||Yes(11th edition)|
|Multi class system||Yes|
|Documents required for filing a trade mark application||Simply signed Power of Attorney|
|Prosecution process||Filing publication of the mark in trademark journal opposition (within 3 months from the date of publication) registration renewal|
|Registration term||10 years from the date of application|
|Renewal term||10 years|
Trademark searches in Tonga
It is advisable to conduct a trademark search prior to filing a trademark application to ascertain the availability of trademarks, existence of prior identical/similar marks on the register etc., so as to avoid any objection and opposition with respect to the mark.
Although, search is not mandatory for filing the application, it is advisable to conduct preliminary search for the proposed trade mark before filing the application in order to avoid any objection and opposition with respect to mark later on.
Trademark word search edition of Tonga follows the nice classification and trademark applications can be filed for goods in classes 1-34 and services in classes 35-45. Trademark searches in Tonga can be conducted for the desired class and associated class.
Along with trademark search, it is also advisable to conduct a comprehensive company search and domain search of the proposed trademark in Tonga.
Device mark or figuration trademark includes marks such as stylized letters, numerals, shapes, plants, celestial bodies, living creatures etc. A device mark search can be conducted in respect of desired goods and services falling under classes 1-45.
A device mark can be searched with the help of international classification of figurative elements of marks which prescribes Vienna codes for different figures.
Filing trademark application in Tonga
A person may file multi class or single class trademark application in Tonga.
Trademark applications in Tonga can be filed in two categories:
- Ordinary applications
- Convention application (claiming priority from a convention country)
Ordinary trademark applications in Tonga:
Ordinary trademark applications filed in Tonga are applications which are filed without claiming any priority. Ordinary applications in Tonga are filled at the registry and intellectual property office (RIPO) of Tonga. . Multi class trademark applications can be filed in Tonga. However, the trademarks act also lays down provisions regarding the filing of priority applications, wherein priority of the mark can be claimed in the said mark filed in a convention country.
Priority/convention trademark applications in Tonga:
A priority trademark application should be filed in Tonga within 6 months after the date on which the application was made in the convention country.
The Paris Convention for the protection of Industrial Property, signed in Paris, France, on March 20, 1983, established a union for the protection of industrial property. It offers national treatment to the applicant residing in the member country of the union, in other words. National treatment is a very important concept and is essential for successfully achieving the fundamental aim on the Paris convention. The idea is to provide equal treatment to applications from member countries, in a given member country and not to differentiate between the nationals of member countries for the purpose of grant, and protection of industrial property. Priority application can be filed in Tonga within 6 months of after the date on which the application was made in the convention countries.
Trademark classes for goods and services in Tonga
Tonga follows the international classification of goods and services. The Nice Classification consists of a list of classes and an alphabetical list of goods and services. There are 34 classes of goods and 11 classes of services from classes 1 to 45.
Trademark examination in Tonga
Once the application is submitted for registration, it goes through the formal examination, an examination of distinctiveness and a search of prior trademarks.
If upon examination the registrar objects the application, he shall notify the objection to the applicant in writing by providing all the relevant details and allow the applicant to amend the application, submit his observations or apply for the hearing within two months from the date of the notification. If the applicant dos not respond within this period, then the application will be deemed to be withdrawn.
If upon examination the registrar decides to accept the application subject to such conditions, notifications, modifications or limitations shall communicate about the decision to the applicant. If the applicant objects about such acceptance can apply for a hearing or submit his observations in writing within two months from the date of communication. In case applicant does not objects to such acceptance, he shall notify the same to the registrar and amend the application accordingly. If the applicant does not respond within this period the application will be deemed to be withdrawn. 
Trademark opposition in Tonga
When the examination stage is successfully completed, the application for registration is accepted and published in the official gazette for the third party observation. Any interested party may file a notice of opposition accompanied by supporting evidence within 3 months from the date of publication.
The counter statement stating the grounds in support of his application accompanied by the supporting evidence must be given by the applicant within two months from the date the notice of opposition is given to applicant in writing.
The request for hearing can be made in writing to the registrar at any time after the filing of the notice of opposition but not later than one month after the expiry of the prescribed time period for filing counter statement. Accordingly, the registrar will set a date of hearing.
Where the opponent or the applicant does not reside or does not carry on business in Tonga, the registrar may require them to furnish the security for the cost of the opposition proceedings.
The registrar will take the decision on the opposition and will notify regarding the same to the opponent and applicant in writing, stating the reasons for the decision.
Trademark registration in Tonga
If no opposition is filed against the mark or where the opposition was filed and decided in favor of the applicant, then the same shall proceed towards registration. The mark is then registered for a period of 10 years from the date of filing of the application and registration certificate is issued.