Intellectual property rights
The protection of intellectual property rights in the Republic of Latvia does not come under the competence of any single state institution.
Industrial property rights
The Patent Office (PO) is responsible for implementation of government policy in the field of industrial property rights protection. The Patent Office issues patents, registers trademarks, designs, inventions and topographies of semiconductor products, and encourages people to understand why the protection of these rights is necessary in the country. Protection of industrial property rights in the Republic of Latvia is implemented under the Patent Law, the Law on Trademarks and Indications of Geographical Origin, the Law on Designs and the Law on the Protection of Topographies of Semiconductor Products.
The Patent Office accepts and reviews applications submitted by legal and natural persons for the legal protection of inventions, designs, trademarks and semiconductor product topographies; provides expert examinations of inventions, designs, trademarks and topographies of semiconductor products, issues patents and certificates protecting them and organises the relevant state registers.
The Ministry of Culture is responsible for copyrights and related rights and their protection is governed by the Copyright Law. The Ministry prepares draft legislation in the field of copyrights and related rights and organises and monitors organisations collectively managing property rights.
Intellectual property protection institutions
Several government institutions are responsible for protecting intellectual property rights.
The Ministry of Justice is responsible for the Patent Office, which deals with the following areas:
- industrial designs;
- semiconductor product topographies;
- indications of geographical origin.
The Appeal Council of the Patent Office deals with disputes linked to the registration of the objects of industrial property.
The courts deal with cases related to protection of patent rights, trademarks, designs, indications of geographical origin and semiconductor product topographies. Copyrights and related rights are the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture.
The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for the protection of plant varieties and the geographical indications of foodstuffs and agricultural produce.
The Economic Police which is an arm of the Central Criminal Police Department of the State Police Force of the Ministry of the Interior, is responsible for combating infringements in the area of intellectual property.
Cases of unfair competition are reviewed by the Ministry of Economics.
The Ministry of Transport is responsible for issues related to domains, servers and downloads.
The State Revenue Service deals with cases of infringement, the seizure of counterfeit goods and with industrial espionage.
A number of non-governmental organisations are also involved in maintaining and protecting intellectual property rights.
The Prosecutor's Office and the courts are responsible for investigating and trying infringement cases.
Two organisations have been set up to coordinate the activities of government institutions: The Intellectual Property Council and The Experts Group.
Combating counterfeiting and piracy
Following the accession of the Republic of Latvia to the European Union, special attention has been paid to combating the distribution of counterfeit goods and piracy and counterfeit goods worth several hundred thousand lats are destroyed every year. The State Police and the Customs Service together with patent agents are the persons engaged in preventing market penetration by counterfeit goods and for their removal from circulation.
The police are also engaged in the fight against piracy and the infringement of copyright.
Property rights encourage investment in innovation and research.
A person wishing to register industrial property rights in Latvia should submit a registration application to the Patent Office.
Applications are submitted and all registration procedure documentation and correspondence involved in the registration process shall be in Latvian. Documents in foreign languages may be submitted, if a translation into Latvian certified according to statutory requirements is added.
At any stage of the application procedure, the applicant may withdraw the whole application or correct it. However, the fees paid are not refunded.
The Registration procedure for intellectual property rights can be viewed in the national e-services portal Latvija.lv and on the Patent Office website.
After completion and submission forms to the Patent Office and completion of the registration forms and completing the registration procedure, the Patent Office will issue the owner with a patent or registration certificate.
The Guidelines on the Maintenance and Protection of Intellectual Property Rights aim to promote business in the area of intellectual property rights by increasing the protection of innovations and by supporting inventors.