If you choose to start a business in Morocco, the first document to obtain before any administrative steps is the negative certificate from OMPIC. Within the framework of the creation of a company, it is a required document.
As its name indicates, this document certifies that the business name you have chosen for registration in the commercial register has not already been used by someone else.
You can obtain it by filing with the Moroccan Office for Industrial and Commercial Protection (OMPIC). You will learn more in this article.
First, we would like to tell you about OMPIC. Created in 2000, the central service of the trade register is the Moroccan organization of reference in charge of industrial and commercial property of all kinds, from industrial models to patents, trademarks, and designs.
OMPIC is placed under the Ministry of Commerce, Investment, and Digital economy's supervision with a legal personality and financial autonomy. OMPIC is the only institution authorized to issue a negative certificate in Morocco.
Let's now focus on the negative certificate and its main characteristics. The OMPIC issues the certificate after an application has been filed by the persons who require this document. The Central Trade Registry Service certifies that another entrepreneur has not already used the business name chosen by the applicant.
To save time, it is recommended to propose a list of several names to multiply the chances of a favorable response. A list of 3 company names in the order of preference is often sufficient.
Considered as the "birth certificate" of the company, although it does not include the date or other data that confirms its existence, the negative certificate has many virtues.
First of all, it allows all bodies and organizations to be registered in the Commercial Register.
This document also has another equally important use: to defend itself in case of litigation if the company is faced with a usurpation or a problem of unfair competition. Indeed, once the negative certificate is obtained, the applicant can assert his full rights in court in case of litigation.
Also, this document prevents consumers from finding themselves on the market with several brands bearing the same name.
Several steps are required to obtain a negative certificate.
The first step is to make an application either online on the official website of the OMPIC (Moroccan organization of industrial and commercial property) or directly at the Office in Casablanca or in one of the regional offices the main cities of Morocco. These regional offices are often located at the regional investment center of the town.
The applicant must fill out a form, which can be downloaded and filled out online. This form specifies certain information about the legal representatives and the company being created.
It is also necessary to specify the legal form of the company and the sector of activity of the company.
As mentioned above, there is a risk that you may already take the business name you have chosen for your company. In this case, OMPIC will refuse your application, and you will lose time because a new application will have to be filed again.
This is why we recommend that you propose to the Moroccan Office of Industrial and Commercial Property a list of several names for your future company, up to five trade names. In principle, three proposals of different company names will be enough.
This way, the applicant is more or less sure to get a favorable answer in his list.
If, unfortunately, OMPIC rejects all the names proposed by the applicant, the latter can reapply free of charge within 15 days from the date of rejection. Once this period has elapsed, the applicant will have to reconstitute the entire file and pay the fees again.
The negative certificate is valid for three months from the date of issue. The negative certificate attests to the availability of the requested trade name.
Therefore, it grants a reservation of three months for the company in question, i.e., the period of validity of the said document, to complete the procedure for creating the company and the registration with the Commercial Registry. After 3 months and without processing the company's creation, the name then reserved will be available again for other companies.
This action is essential insofar as the protection of the negative certificate is only effective after completing the registration of the company in the commercial register.
You should note that the waiting time for the issuance of the negative certificate is 24 hours in Morocco.
If, after a rejection, the applicant has the opportunity to reapply for free within 15 days after the date of refusal, the negative certificate is not free.
Indeed, suppose that the OMPIC validates the trade name chosen for your company at the time of your first application. In that case, a regulated fee will be applied, reviewed by the official board of directors, the last of which dates from September 02, 2019.
This pricing varies according to two new grids depending on whether you are in category 1 (SMEs, VSEs, self-employed...) or category 2 (all other users and customers not present in category 1).
The rates also vary according to the procedure used. If you choose to file online, you will receive a discount of up to 50%.
In the most frequent cases and for basic commercial names, if you carry out your procedure online, the fees are around 126 MAD. You will have to count 210 MAD if you have opted for a deposit on site.
Like the application for the negative certificate, the registration of the trademark is done in several steps. It is crucial to understand the importance of this process.
Defined as an industrial property, the trademark registration gives the natural person or legal entity that owns it the right to enjoy the invention. In addition, it confers an exclusive right of ownership on the trademark for the designated goods and services. It also prohibits third parties from exploiting the invention without the authorization of the trademark holder.
Everything starts with the classification of your products and or services according to the world classification of NICE.
The NICE classification is an international standard ordered in 45 classes. It identifies the different categories of products or services you can register under the IP (intellectual property).
At this stage, it is essential to note that if you are an individual or a legal entity, you can either file your application yourself or mandate a third party to represent you at the Commercial Registry Center.
However, it would be best to choose the representative according to a certain number of precise criteria. Indeed, not just anyone can be a representative. You can select the representative from specialized professionals such as industrial property consultants.
The representative in charge of carrying out all the trademark registration formalities on your behalf can also be any other person holding the power of representation of the trademark applicant, such as an employee.
Once all these conditions are met, you can either file online via the directinfo.ma service, or go to the office if you have not opted to be represented by an agent.
Please note, however, that if you choose to be represented by an agent, you must provide them with a legalized power of attorney so that they can carry out the procedures on your behalf.
If you are outside Casablanca, you can go to one of the 28 regional branches of OMPIC. The next step is to submit the said file.
To do this, you must first fill in a filing form duly completed by the applicant. To this must be added two reproductions of the model of the trademark in color, payment of the required fees, as well as a legalized power of attorney authorizing the agent to file the brand on your behalf. You should note that a file that does not include these documents will be considered inadmissible. Please refer to article 144 of the 17.97.
On the other hand, if everything is in order, a receipt will be issued immediately. Nevertheless, an examination of form will be carried out and examine substance based on absolute grounds.
In total, three months from the date of the trademark registration is required to regularize the application. In case of non-compliance with the time limits, two months is granted to submit a request for a new trademark. If the deadlines are not met, a period of two months is allowed for filing a request to continue the procedure.
At this stage of the procedure, only a few formalities remain, namely a publication of your registered trademark in the official trademark catalog for a period of two months.
After this period, if no opposition has been filed, the trademark is registered. The applicant or the representative is given or notified of a certificate of registration of the brand. From that moment on, your trademark is protected for a period of 10 years, indefinitely renewable.
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