The Board of Appeals is an independent pre-trial institution that solves appeals filed to contest the decisions made by the Estonian Patent Office in cases prescribed in the legal acts: complaints concerning the decision, registration procedure, refusal or delay of the registration procedure, and disputes between the third party and the applicant or owner, based on the third person’s opposition, request for the invalidation or termination of the exclusive right, request for the revocation of the right granted to the object of industrial property, or other request.
The Board was set up in 1992, but its tasks, organization, composition, procedure and location have been reorganized several times over the last 30 years. From 2019, the Board is located at the Estonian Patent Office, but is independent in its activities. In 2021, the Board had two permanent members (chairman Tanel Kalmet, vice-chairman Sulev Sulsenberg). Where the law provides for a collegiate decision of the Board, one or two additional members from the experts in the field shall be included in the decision-making body. The list of additional members has been approved by the Minister of Justice from among Estonian Patent Office officials, patent attorneys and other experts in the field. A total of 38 additional members are on the list, 20 of them active in the trade mark area. The duties of Board secretary are carried out by Marit Soomets from 2019.
The web page toak.epa.ee of the Board of Appeals with sub-pages (pending appeals and oppositions and initiated final procedures and decisions) contains information on the subject and nature of the procedures with references to the relevant records in the trade mark database of the Estonian Patent Office. In cases prescribed by law, the decisions of the Board are published on the website. The collegial decisions of the previous composition of the Board can be found on a separate page.
The appeals and requests filed with the Board in 2021, and the collegial and exclusive decisions taken, concerned mainly trade marks, but there was also one about a patent (not admissible) and one about supplementary protection. A total of 3 appeals (2019 – 7; 2020 – 7) and 86 requests (2019 – 90; 2020 – 94) were filed with the Board during the year. The vast majority of the requests submitted (72) were oppositions, fewer requests were filed for the declaration of invalidity (9) and for the declaration of termination of the exclusive right (4). One appeal and 67 requests concern Estonian national trade marks, one appeal and 18 requests concern international trade marks. By month, the most requests were received in June (16), the least in May (3). In 84 cases, appeals or requests were filed through a patent attorney.
With the decision, the Board of Appeals either dismisses the appeal or opposition, or grants it in full or in part. In 2021, the Board made 44 collegial decisions (2020 – 53). The Board fully granted 37 oppositions (including 2 declaration of invalidity and 2 declaration of termination of the exclusive right) and dismissed 3 oppositions. 18 decisions were taken in an accelerated procedure, i.e. in a situation where the applicant or the owner had not indicated their intention to oppose the request. The Board also granted four appeals. In 2021, 31 proceedings were closed by an exclusive decision, and in 3 cases the appeal or opposition was rejected.
In general, the resolution of the dispute takes place in a written examination and a session will be arranged only in exceptional cases. In 2021, no disputes were discussed at a session.
As of the end of 2021, 114 cases were pending, of which 23 proceedings had been suspended.