“The protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights should contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conductive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations.”
Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, Article 7
The protection of intellectual property is an inseparable part of the constitutional legal order. Industrial property is protected under § 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, providing that the property of every person is inviolable and equally protected. Everyone has the right to freely possess, use, and dispose of his or her property. Restrictions on the right of ownership shall be provided only by law. Property is not allowed to be used contrary to the public interest. Under § 39 of the Constitution, an author has the inalienable right to his or her work and the state protects the rights of the author.
The Estonian Patent Office's activity in the field of intellectual property underwent major changes in the year 2021. On 1 April, the Estonian Patent Office took over some of the functions of the Ministry of Justice in the field of copyright and related rights.
These functions are
- The role of the mediator of information on the status of an orphan work in Estonia, i.e. to act as a competent authority within the meaning of Article 3 (5) of Directive 2012/28 / EU of the European Parliament and of the Council.
The competent authority essentially has two tasks. Upon receipt of information on a work declared to be an orphan work from a public memory institution or the Estonian Public Broadcasting Authority, the competent authority will transmit this information to the database of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). However, if the ownership of a work or phonogram declared orphan is subsequently confirmed, the competent authority will transmit that information to the database of orphan works maintained by EUIPO.
Other responsibilities of the competent authority in Estonia include coordinating the work of memory institutions in developing common practices for conducting diligent searches and documentation, determining whether appropriate sources are up to date and, if necessary, proposing additions to the list, as well as communicating with EUIPO on practical matters (eg mass loading of records by memory institutions).
- Exercising state supervision over the activities of collective management organisations (hereinafter also CMO), ensuring compliance with the requirements provided for in Chapter 9 of the Copyright Act (CA).
Chapter IX of the Copyright Act regulates the collective exercise of rights and Section 3 of the Chapter provides for state supervision over the activities of CMOs. Chapter IX of the Copyright Act also prescribes requirements for CMOs and their activities.
Among other things, the use and distribution of revenue from the exercise of regulated rights to rightholders, the terms and conditions for entering into a contract with users (incl. setting reasonable tariffs) and providing information from CMO on the exercise of these rights to users and the general public (incl. submission of transparency report, disclosure of information on s website) are regulated.
Most of the requirements subject to state supervision derive from Directive 2014/26/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council.
- Organizing the work of the Copyright Committee.
The Copyright Committee was established at the Estonian Patent Office on April 1, 2021. The committee is a conciliation body within the meaning of § 19 of the Conciliation Act and performs the functions listed in § 87 (1) of the Copyright Act, including resolving disputes related to copyright and related rights at the request of disputing parties by conciliation.
Laws governing the enforcement of intellectual property rights take into account, among other things, the provisions of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), as well as international and EU law.
Restrictions on ownership may be laid down only by law. Intellectual property rights can be protected by a court of law. The Republic of Estonia has a three-level court system.
The Harju County Court has the exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate intellectual property cases in the first instance, which reviews disputes concerning the origin and ownership (in the case of copyright and related rights), legal protection (incl. registration) and validity (in the case of industrial property rights) and claims arising from illegal use applications for legal protection, and other complaints and actions specified in the relevant special law. In the second instance, these matters are reviewed by the Tallinn Circuit Court.
1992 The Constitution of the Republic of Estonia
1992 Trade Marks Act
1992 Copyright Act
1994 Patent Act
1994 Utility Model Act
1997 Industrial Design Protection Act
1998 Act on the Protection of Layout Designs of Integrated Circuits
1999 Geographical Indication Protection Act
2002 Penal Code
2002 Act on implementing the Convention on the Grant of European Patents
2002 Customs Code (unlawful carriage of goods over the customs frontier)
2004 Customs Act
2004 Principles of Legal Regulation of Industrial Property Act
Accession of the Republic of Estonia to multilateral international treaties in the field of industrial property, which are administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization
|Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883)||12 February 1924|
|Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (Stockholm Act, 1967)
Remark. The Republic of Estonia acceded the Paris Convention (Washington Act, 1911) with effect from 12 February 1924. Estonia lost its independence on August 6, 1940 and regained it on August 20, 1991. Source: WIPO publication No 423 of 5 November 1998.
|24 August 1994 (re-acceded)|
|The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886)||9 June 1927|
|The Paris redaction for The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works on 24 July 1971 (amended on September 28, 1979).
Remark. The Republic of Estonia acceded to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works in 1927 (Berlin Act of 1908). Estonia lost its independence on August 6, 1940, and regained it on August 20, 1991.
Source: WIPO Lex database
|26 October 1994 (re-acceded)|
|Convention on Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (Stockholm, 1967)||5 February 1994|
|Patent Cooperation Treaty (Washington, 1970)||24 August 1994|
|Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of Registration of Marks (1957)||27 May 1996|
|Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Microorganisms for the purpose of Patent Procedure (1977)||14 September 1996|
|Locarno Agreement Establishing an International Classification for Industrial Designs (1968)||31 October 1996|
|Strasbourg Agreement Concerning the International Patent Classification (1971)||27 February 1997|
|WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT, 1996)||Entered into force on 2010|
|Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (1989)||18 November 1998|
|Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations||28 April 2000|
|Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms||28 May 2000|
|International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants||24 September 2000|
|Trademark Law Treaty (1994)||7 January 2003|
|Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Deposit of Industrial Design (1999)||23 December 2003|
|Patent Law Treaty (2000)||28 April 2005|
|Nairobi Treaty on the Protection of the Olympic Symbol||30 June 2006|
|Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks (2006)||14 August 2009|
|WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT, 1996)||14 March 2010|