How the Trademark was lost
there is a disciplinary investigation into who’s responsible. The findings will also be forwarded to the Attorney General for the appropriate action,” said the Ministry.
The ministry is considering legal action, a difficult task as the decision on 28 November regarded an appeal by the ministry, with the court ruling that Cyprus was too late in presenting the file that had been requested four times.
However, the competent authorities do not seem particularly alarmed as they believe that the European Trademark of Halloumi registered to Cyprus will suffice to go after any private non-Cypriot firm which is not registered and is producing Halloumi.
“Of course, the loss of the trademark in the UK is a negative development, but that does not change the fact that no one can produce Halloumi outside Cyprus and without conforming to the prototype, “said Nelli Koulia, head of the Ministry’s trade department.
She said that the EU Trademark allows Cyprus to go after rogue Halloumi producers “with all our legal weapons”.
She added that the Ministry is not worried about complications that may arise because of Brexit.
The Ministry says there is a special clause in the withdrawal agreement between Britain and the European Union which states that Halloumi’s European Trademark is to automatically be adopted by Britain as a local trademark. But the withdrawal agreement is subject to the approval of the British parliament.
Events started unfolding in late December 2017, when John & Pascalis Ltd made three separate claims to courts in Britain to cancel or withdraw the trademark vested to Cyprus. Britain’s IPO (Intellectual Property Office) informed the Ministry of Commerce that the relevant applications had been submitted, while in a letter sent to the Ministry dated 26 January 2018, explained that the ministry had two months to reply to the company’s claims.
The IPO had made it clear that if a reply is not filed within the given time limit, the trademark would be declared invalid. The evidence from the ministry shows that the letter was received by the ministry on 9 February and officials were instructed to send the letter to the Legal Service. This was never done, so no reply was submitted to the British courts.
Another letter followed on 5 April 2018, explaining that without a reply, the award of the trademark would be considered void.
Any disagreements should also be given in writing and a hearing should have been requested before 19 April. The ministry received the letter on April 26th and was forwarded to the competent office on 9 May.
As no reply was submitted, the trademark registration was declared void and a deletion was requested from the registry. Following the developments, the Ministry filed an appeal on 30 May for the annulment of the decision and additional information was provided on 18 July for the non-completion of the reply.
Despite the submission of the appeal and explanations provided, the IPO’s lawyers presented many examples of companies that lost similar cases due to bad handling, leading the court to reject the application and Cyprus losing its Halloumi trademark in the UK.
Some of the halloumi brands distributed by John & Pascali in the UK