The Republic of Estonia is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) from 5 February 1994. The Republic of Estonia has acceded to all core level conventions and agreements administered by WIPO in the field of industrial property protection. From 1994 the Estonian delegation attends the annual meetings of the General Assembly of WIPO. Representatives of the Estonian Patent Office participate in the work of Group Central Europe and Baltic States, and the standing committees and working groups of WIPO.
Under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks and the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement, the Estonian Patent Office works in close daily examination-related cooperation with the International Bureau of WIPO. Cooperation under the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks has been particularly intense. In 2021 the International Bureau of WIPO sent 890 applications for international registration of trade marks and 35 industrial design applications to be processed in the Estonian Patent Office. On the basis of the PCT, 1 patent application and 4 applications for a utility model were processed.
The Estonian Patent Office provides for the implementation and public information of the amendments to WIPO guides and regulations and new editions of International classifications, and as far as possible, translates them into Estonian. The Estonian Patent Office mediates several WIPO e-services to the customers, arranges and mediates WIPO conferences and seminars in Estonia. The office mediates the WIPO Schoolchildren’s Trophy each year.
In 2021, cooperation between the network of IP commercialization experts created in the framework of the WIPO Pilot Project continued. The project was carried out by WIPO, in cooperation with the patent offices and universities of Baltic States. From Estonia, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tallinn University of Applied Sciences, Tallinn University of Technology and University of Tartu take part in the network. In order to maintain cooperation, further meetings will be held to discuss important topics of technology transfer for universities.
In 2021, meetings for the most part took place as virtual workshops and seminars.
Estonia has been a member of the World Trade Organization from 1999. Legal acts concerning industrial property protection in Estonia comply with the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) administered by the WTO.
On 1 May 2004, the Republic of Estonia acceded to the European Union. Before that, the Estonian legal system of industrial property protection was harmonized with the requirements of the EU.
Due to the accession, about half a million European trade marks became valid in the territory of the Republic of Estonia. Now more than 1.4 million registrations of European trade marks and more than 900,000 registrations of European industrial designs are valid in Estonia. Soon the European Unitary Patent system will take effect. So far, 25 EU member states have acceded to it. Centrally issued patents will be automatically valid in all 25 states. This means that at least 50,000 patents from foreign countries enter into force every year in Estonia. It is a big challenge to the Estonian entrepreneurs, universities and scientific authorities.
European Patent Organisation
On 1 July 2002, Estonia joined the European Patent Convention and became a full member of the European Patent Organisation (there were 38 full members on 31 December 2021). The European patent system is very flexible. The applicant has the choice to apply for protection in either all 38 member states or in particular states depending on their economic interests (but at the same time if the European patent becomes invalid in one state, it does not become automatically invalid in all 38 states). The system is also beneficial for the member state, as the state receives the validation and renewal fees of the European patents (differently from the European trade mark system).
The representatives of the office participate in the work of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (EPO), the Budget and Finance Committee, the Committee on Patent Law, and several working groups. The office cooperates closely with Nordic and Baltic patent offices in the framework of the Administrative Council and the Committees.
The office works in close daily cooperation with the structural units of EPO within the framework of cooperation programs. Patent examination is carried out using EPO databases and EPO examination guidelines. EPO databases are constantly updated with the data concerning patents and utility models granted in Estonia. 1,595 European patents were enforced in Estonia in 2021. Altogether, there are 11,604 European patents valid in Estonia.
In the framework of a bilateral cooperation program the EPO assists the Estonian Patent Office with information technology and training, and finances the publication of industrial property related materials. In the framework of the European Patent Network, the Estonian Patent Office performs standard and special searches for the entrepreneurs of Estonia and other states.
Also in 2021, all the meetings of the EPO Councils and Committees took place in virtually. At the same time, it did not prevent any meetings from being held, and all trainings, seminars and working group meetings were successfully carried out. Unfortunately, we had to cancel the EPO Patent Information Conference planned for Tallinn on November 2021, which had been in preparation for nearly a year. We hope, however, to organise this magnificent conference in the coming years.
European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)
On 1 May 2004, the Republic of Estonia joined the European Union system for protection of trade marks and industrial designs. Due to this Community trade marks and designs automatically became effective in the territory of Estonia. As a result, the work volume of the Estonian Patent Office in the field of trade mark examination has significantly increased.
Representatives of the office take part in the work of the EUIPO Management Board, Budget Committee and expert working groups. After 1,5 years, the meetings of the EUIPO Management Board and the Budget Committee took place on the spot in Alicante. The Estonian Patent Office participates in several cooperation projects by EUIPO. The office and EUIPO exchange data. In cooperation with EUIPO, the new software for examination of trade marks and industrial designs, and offered e-services were updated. The Estonian Patent Office continues to introduce the European Union trade mark and Community design protection systems to a broader public. Folders and brochures on protection of industrial designs and trade marks have been published; relevant training and consultations have been provided. All that has taken place based on bilateral cooperation agreements with EUIPO.
Nordic And Baltic countries
The Estonian Patent Office participates in the cooperation of patent offices of the Nordic and Baltic countries. Directors-General of the patent offices hold regular meetings twice a year, where problematic industrial property issues in the whole world and Europe are discussed and joint statements are worked out. Examiners of the Estonian Patent Office participate in the trade mark, industrial design, patent and communication working groups between the Nordic and Baltic patent offices. On a day-to-day basis, there is also close communication and cooperation between the managements of the Nordic and Baltic offices.
Cooperation with the Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH) continues under the cooperation protocol signed on 15 April 1992. Regular meetings with the managerial staff of the PRH are held. Reciprocal business trips of specialists take place, the offices arrange joint trainings for their examiners and exchange their experience in creation, adaption and application of information systems.
Cooperation between the Finnish, Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian patent offices continues on the grounds of the Memorandum of Understanding, signed on 5 December 2006. In 2021, all meetings took place virtually and with a shorter program than usual. In 2021, the opportunity to organise the meetings of intellectual property offices of the Nordic and Baltic countries reached Estonia again after eight years and all the meetings were successful held via Teams.