By: Alfredo Vargas

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The “Rehabilitation for Non-Use” is a concept unique to Honduran trademark legislation, meaning there is no equivalent or similar provision in other Latin American countries.

What exactly is Rehabilitation for Non-Use?

It is an official fee that the owner of a registered trademark can pay to maintain protection if the trademark is not being utilized within the Honduran territory. This is because, according to Honduran Industrial Property Law, a registered trademark that remains unused for three consecutive years can be canceled at the request of an interested third party.

To prevent the cancellation of a registered but unused trademark in Honduras, the registrant has the option to pay the Rehabilitation for Non-Use fee, providing a safeguard against any cancellation action by a third party. This fee can be paid annually or every two years to interrupt the 3-year period specified by the law.

For the first payment, we recommend paying for three years to avoid initiating an action, and subsequently paying it annually.

Uses of Rehabilitation for Non-Use

As mentioned earlier, Rehabilitation protects trademarks against potential Cancellation Actions. The provision for Rehabilitation was created to provide trademark owners with a tool to safeguard the exclusive right conferred to them. However, in reality, this tool is also used to protect rights holders (who may not necessarily be the legitimate creators of the trademark) against any Cancellation Action initiated by the legitimate creator of a trademark attempting to reclaim the rights to a trademark that should ideally and legitimately belong to them.

“Annual Fee” and “Rehabilitation for Non-Use” – What is the Difference between the two fees?

An Annual Fee is a fee that must be paid annually for the maintenance of a registration by the Registration Office. The payment of this fee is mandatory and must be up to date at the time of renewing a trademark for the renewal process to be concluded. Contrary to any perception, the cancellation of this fee does not provide any type of protection to the registered trademark. On the other hand, the Rehabilitation for Non-Use fee, while also an official fee paid to the Registration Office, is entirely optional. However, this fee does provide protection to the registered trademark.

It is important to consider the commencement of a Cancellation Action. Both the party initiating the action and the defending party must be prepared to incur high costs, invest a significant amount of time (around 6 months to a year), and have the necessary evidence to support the actual use of the products and/or services protected under the registered trademark; otherwise, the trademark will be effectively canceled.

In light of the above, the concept of “Rehabilitation for Non-Use” proves to be both useful and economically attractive for the owner of a registered trademark.”

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