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Significant changes in trademark regulations in the Baltic States

Legal trademark protection in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia is seeking harmonization with the Directive (EU) 2015/2436 of the European parliament and of the Council European Union of 16 December 2015. The upcoming changes will bring greater innovations, modernize the current regulations and provide a wider scope of protection. As a result, trademark owners will have new opportunities to register trademarks and develop strategies for protecting their trademarks. They can also expect more efficient administrative process.

To reflect these changes, working groups have been drafting the new provisions, amending the previous ones and intensively analyzing the Directive’s impact on the exiting legislation. Even though implementation of the Directive has not met the date of transposition (14/01/2019), these revisions will be introduced into local legislations in the nearest future. The Estonian trademark law changes are planned to take effect as of 1 April 2019.

The key aspects in relation to each country are summarized below:

Latvia

  • The requirement of graphic mark representation will be abolished;
  • Registration of certification mark will be possible;
  • The period for filing a reply to opposition in case of a contested international mark will be reduced from 3 to 2 months;
  • Revocation and cancellation actions will be carried out by the Industrial Property Board of Appeal instead of the court;
  • Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights will be reflected more thoroughly;
  • Regulations on geographical indications will remain as a part of the Latvian Trademark Law.

Lithuania

  • The requirement of graphic mark representation will be abolished;
  • Registration of certification mark will be possible;
  • Changes in stage of trademark registration will be set;
  • A new institute of third parties observations will be set;
  • Mandatory pre-trial opposition procedure will be established;
  • Trademark use requirement will be allowed during the opposition proceedings;
  • Rights and restrictions of the trademark owners will be elaborated.

Estonia

  • The requirement of graphic mark representation will be abolished;
  • Registration of certification mark will be possible;
  • Trademark renewal term calculation for new applications will be changed to 10 years from application date (before 10 years from the registration date);
  • The Patent Office will end examination of trademarks on relative grounds (prior rights) which means that trademark owners should establish proper watch services for their trademarks;
  • The Board of Appeal of Industrial Property will be moved from the Ministry of Justice under the Patent Office and the proceedings are streamlined. Among other changes the request for proof of use will be introduced to the trademark opposition proceedings;
  • Oppositions on absolute grounds will not be possible any more, observations of third parties is introduced as replacement for this;
  • Revocation and cancellation action cases will be decided by the Board of Appeal of Industrial Property instead of the court.

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