Intellectual property - Estonia
The types of intellectual property are:
- copyright and
- industrial property, including trade marks, patents, utility models, industrial design, geographical indications and layout of integrated circuits.
Different types of intellectual property protect the different aspects of intellectual creations.
Intellectual property rights
The proprietor of a patent may transfer the patent to another person. The proprietor of a patent may, pursuant to a licence agreement, grant the use of the rights of the proprietor of the patent listed in the Act to another person or persons in part or in full. The rules are provided for in the Patents Act.
A patent is valid for 20 years as of the filing date of the patent application.
A person who is interested in using a patented invention and is capable of doing so in Estonia, may, upon refusal of the proprietor of the patent to grant a licence, file an action in court for acquiring a compulsory licence, if:
- the proprietor of the patent has not used the invention in Estonia within three years after publication of the notice concerning the issue of the patent or within four years after filing a patent application;
- the proprietor of the patent does not use the invention to the full extent;
- the patent hinders the use of another, technically advanced invention significant for the Estonian economy;
- national defence, environmental protection, public health and other significant national interests of the Republic of Estonia require the use of the invention, including the need to use the invention in connection with a natural disaster or other emergency;
- the patent hinders the grant of plant variety rights pursuant to the Plant Propagation and Plant Variety Rights Act or the use of a plant variety which is granted legal protection.
A trade mark is a sign used to distinguish the goods or services of a person from other similar types of goods or services of other persons. A protected trade mark shall be capable of being represented graphically.
Trade marks could be:
- a word or words (e.g. artificial word, phrase, slogan, etc.);
- images (e.g. symbols, ornaments, geometrical figures, stylized images of things, animals, or people, etc.);
- a combination of a word or words and images;
- a label;
- a three-dimensional figure (original package or original form of a product);
- a combination of letters;
- a combination of a number and a letter (letters);
- a business name, etc.
The scope of legal protection of a trade mark is based on the reproduction of the trade mark entered in the register and the list of goods and services.
- Protection of trade marks
An industrial design is the two-dimensional or three-dimensional exterior design. The definition of industrial design includes all possible designs of products which do not result from its technical use and in the formation of which, either separately or in combination, the shape, configuration, ornamentation, colours, texture and material are included. There is a significant restriction, according to which the design of such products is not considered industrial design when not visible as a detail in the assembled product.
A registration may include one industrial design, the variants of an industrial design or a set of industrial designs.
The following works are protected by copyright:
- computer programs;
Authorities dealing with the protection of intellectual property
Several organisations deal with issues related to the protection intellectual property. The Patent Office deals with the protection of industrial design, while copyright protection is performed by third sector organisations, such as creative unions and authors' associations.
Protection of intellectual property rights abroad
Abroad, an invention can be patented either separately in each selected country or simultaneously in a group of certain countries using the possibilities of international agreements.
In the case of filing the patent application separately with the patent office of each foreign country, the patent application must be prepared and filed pursuant to the law of the relevant country. As a rule, the patent application must be prepared in the official language of that country. In addition, a local patent agent must be found and authorised to represent the patent applicant in the communication with the patent office. The main international agreements for inventions to be subjected to foreign patenting are the patent cooperation agreement, European Patent Convention, and Eurasian Patent Convention.
Trade mark registration abroad can be done in three ways:
- filing a trade mark registration application with the relevant country’s patent office (protection is granted in that country);
- registration pursuant to the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement (protection in those countries that have joined the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement where protection is desired);
European Community trade mark (the application is filed with the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market located in Alicante, Spain), legal protection throughout the EC territory. European Community trade marks are registered on the basis of Council Regulation No 40/94.
Property rights encourage investment in innovation and research.
Copyright is applicable from the moment of creation of a work; thus registration or other formalities are not required. Copyright is also applied to the interim stages of a work (sketches, drafts, designs).
For the protection of industrial property, the registration of an invention, trade mark or industrial design must be filed with the Patent Office.
The Patent Office manages the intellectual property databases, where information can be found on registered industrial property. In addition, a lot of useful information and advice can be found on the homepage of the Patent Office.
Check also the legislation on this topic in: