International Cooperation

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

The Republic of Estonia is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization 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.

Although the focus of WIPO's 2023 General Assembly was on intellectual property issues, political messages also played a role, just like in 2022. Among other things, support for Ukraine and the adoption of the WIPO report on the proposed aid to Ukraine was an important topic. Estonia's priorities include supporting Ukraine in WIPO. Estonia will continue to condemn the unjustified and provocative war of the Russian Federation and will stand by Ukraine for as long as necessary. The restoration of the Ukrainian intellectual property system and the innovation and creative industries sector, damaged by the Russian war of aggression, requires long-term planned support. Among the decisions related to Ukraine, it was also important that the newly created Patent and Innovation Authority of Ukraine could continue as an International Search Authority.

Estonia also participates in the work of the WIPO Program and Budget Committee, which plays an important role in the preparation of WIPO budget and action plans. In 2023, the preparatory work of two diplomatic conferences will continue, with greater attention being paid to the conference on genetic resources and related traditional knowledge (Preparatory Committee of the Diplomatic Conference to Conclude an International Legal Instrument relating to Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge Associated with Genetic Resources). Important decisions were made to allow indigenous representatives to participate in this diplomatic conference. It was also encouraged that all member states provide financial support to the voluntary fund set up to support the participation of members of indigenous and small communities. In addition, a specific work plan for 2024–2025  was confirmed.

The first formal meeting with WIPO Director General Daren Tang also took place in the framework of the WIPO assemblies. Topics included strong cooperation between WIPO and Estonian Patent Office, such as the Baltic states knowledge transfer network which is used as a model for creating similar networks in other countries, young people and IP, WIPO initiatives to support SMEs in member states, normative work and preparations for two diplomatic conferences in 2024. The Director General of WIPO was particularly pleased that IP is part of the wider research and innovation strategy in Estonia. The Estonian public sector model in the field of IP was also praised and found to be a good example for other WIPO member states – we were invited to share our experiences. WIPO digital initiatives and tools that support both SMEs and the start-up sector were also touched upon. We also invited the Director General of WIPO to visit Estonia in 2024.

WIPO Daren Tang
During the WIPO Assemblies, the first official meeting with WIPO Director General Daren Tang took place. Photos: WIPO.

At this year's WIPO Assembly, special attention was paid to inspiring female designers from Central Europe and the Baltic States, whose innovative work was presented in the exhibition "She Inspires." Estonia is represented by Reet Aus and her upcycled Up-shirt, Annamaria Rennel and her Respiray that cleans air from allergens; Ines-Issa Villido and her green-tech company Filaret which gathers and upcycles cigarette butts. In addition, a fashion show was held where the work of Estonian fashion designer Kärolin Raadik was presented.

For the second year, Karoli Hindriks from the enterprise Jobbatical continued as a member of the jury of the WIPO Global Awards as a representative of the European continent. Together with five other top international start-ups and business leaders from Peru, the United States, Nigeria, Switzerland and China, this year's seven winners were selected – SMEs from different corners of the world who have been able to build an innovative company with a strong social output through the skillful use of intellectual property. Members of the jury attended the Global Awards ceremony, shared their advice and experience during the panel discussion and advised the winning companies.

For the second year in a row, Karoli Hindriks from Jobbatical continued as a jury member for the WIPO Global Awards representing the European continent. Alongside five other international start-ups and top players in the entrepreneurship landscape from Peru, the United States, Nigeria, Switzerland, and China, seven winners were selected for this year.

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 2023 the International Bureau of WIPO sent 728 applications for international registration of trade marks and 16 industrial design applications to be processed in the Estonian Patent Office. On the basis of the PCT, 4 patent application 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 medal at the National Contest of Young Inventors. On 5 December at the PROTO Discovery Factory in Tallinn, the best of the National Contest of Young Inventors – which was organised for the 16th time – were awarded and the special prizes of the cooperation partners were presented. More than 400 young inventors from 88 Estonian schools, kindergartens and hobby schools participated in the competition. More than 500 ideas were submitted to the competition. The joint special prize of the Patent Office and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), which we awarded for the tenth time, was taken home this time by Karl Mattias Pulst, a 4th-grade student of Saku Gymnasium, with the invention "home packaging press." The invention focuses on a solution to a modern problem related to the disposal and storage of packaging waste and does not require electricity for working.

The network of specialists in IP commercialization established as part of the WIPO Pilot Project continued in 2023.

On September 27th, WIPO released the new Global Innovation Index (GII) in Geneva, ranking countries on the basis of innovation capabilities. Ministers, business leaders and innovation experts from several countries were present at this high-level event, and our Prime Minister Kaja Kallas also held a speech. Estonia ranks 16th among the132 countries in the 2023 Innovation Index, which is the best result ever. Innovation is assessed on the basis of nearly 80 indicators. Over the past decade, GII has become a key source of reference when talking about innovation and a useful tool for countries that have integrated it into their innovation policies. Estonia can be boldly called an innovation leader – the first 25 countries in the ranking are considered leaders. Although Estonia has been among the innovation leaders since 2015, we have made a huge leap up – 11 places – compared to 2020. In the last year, Estonia has climbed up two steps again.

The report says that Estonia’s strenghts are-governance, the import of information and communication services, venture capital transactions and unicorn valuation, relative to GDP. In these areas, Estonia holds the absolute leadership, i.e. is on the first place among all countries. Entrepreneurship culture and e-participation are also mentioned as Estonia’s strengths.

The University of Tartu, TalTech and Tallinn University have been identified as the top innovators in Estonia. The most successful unicorns are Bolt, with a market value of USD 8 billion, and Veriff, with a market value of USD 2 billion. As Estonia’s weakness, the report identifies among other things the income from intellectual property transactions. This clearly shows that innovation-oriented investments could be significantly more effective. The latter has created a somewhat paradoxical situation where Estonian entrepreneurs are at the forefront of innovation, but on the other hand, the results of their creative work tend to be left unprotected.

The gap seen in the innovation index is also reflected in the last year’s survey ordered by the Patent Office. The survey showed that small and medium-sized enterprises in Estonia are very innovative. At the same time, it turned out that a large number of them do not protect the intellectual property that comes with the products and services they create. Many companies do not even know that they own intellectual property in the company. Estonia still has a long way to go in commercialising intellectual property. It is in the interests of the Estonian economy that all parties put their backs together and support entrepreneurs even more meaningfully and thoughtfully. Unprotected intellectual property is undoubtedly a major risk to businesses, national economy and innovation.

World Trade Organization (WTO)

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.

European Union

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. In the summer of 2023, the European Unitary Patent system took effect. This is further discussed below.

European Patent Organisation (EPO)

On 1 July 2002, Estonia joined the European Patent Convention and became a full member of the European Patent Organisation (there were 39 full members on 31 December 2023). The European patent system is very flexible. The applicant has the choice to apply for protection in either all 39 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 39 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, 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. 876 European patents were enforced in Estonia in 2023. Altogether, there are 11,053 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.

On 1 June 2023, the European Union patent system with unitary effect entered into force. For applicants who wish to obtain patent protection for their invention in many member states, the new system gives many advantages over a classical European patent – reaching a valid patent is easier, faster and cheaper. From 1 June, it is possible to register a European patent with unitary effect at the European Patent Office. This is a convenient opportunity for inventors to obtain patent protection at the same time in all the member states of the European Patent Convention. Estonian applicants have already registered 10 patents with unitary effect last year. The Unitary Patent system does not replace the procedure established under the Convention on the Grant of European Patents, but offers the applicant an alternative to protect inventions in Europe. 17 member states participate in the Unitary Patent system: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden. More countries are expected to joinin the future. Last year, 17,909 European patents with unitary effect were applied for and 17,388 have been registered. It is important to note that the rights of all 17,388 patents with unitary effect also apply in Estonia.

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 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. 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 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. 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.

In 2023, the DesignEuropa Awards organised by EUIPO took place in Berlin. This time an Estonian representative reached the final round of the competition. Among the approximately 600 participants in the competition, our company Cleveron from Viljandi was chosen among the four finalists. Cleveron participated in the category of industry with their parcel machine.

In January, the SME Fund launched by EUIPO and the European Commission was reopened, providing financial support for companies to protect intellectual property and is waiting for reimbursment applications from Estonian companies. Reimbursment for the protection of trade marks and designs could be requested starting from January, and for the protection of patents and plant varieties, the grants began to be distributed from March. One of the most important innovations is the possibility of obtaining reimbursement to apply for a European patent. Reimbursement of the state-of-the-art search service was added to the patent voucher and the rate of compensation as well as the total value of the voucher increased. A plant variety protection voucher to protect plant varieties was also added.

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. The meetings for Nordic and Baltic cooperation were organized by Sweden in 2023. The cooperation meeting of the heads of patent offices took place in Stockholm in May.

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. The practical output of cooperation are work meetings between the offices. The tradition was renewed with the first meeting in Vilnius in February, although it was planned for the end of 2022. This is how two meetings took place during the year – the second meeting of the patent offices of the Baltic States took place in Tallinn in December of the same year.

The collaboration between the patent offices of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia continued. A meeting took place in December in Tallinn.


The cooperation between the Estonian and Ukrainian IP offices is based on the Memorandum of Cooperation signed in Geneva in 2018. After the war started by Russia in Ukraine, on 1 March Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland signed a joint cooperation agreement with the Ukrainian IP Office. The main objective of the agreement is to support Ukraine in rebuilding their intellectual property protection system after the end of the war. Estonia also supports Ukraine in preparing to meet the requirements necessary for accession to the European Union. In October 2023, the Director General of the Patent Office, together with the Executive Director of EUIPO and his colleagues from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Moldova, visited Kiev, Butcha and Irpin. The activities of the Ukrainian IP Office have not been interrupted despite the war, the granting of legal protection continues even in difficult circumstances.

During the visit, high-level meetings were held with all key organisations of IP field: customs, police, courts, patent attorneys, business organisations, representatives of ministries related to the field. 

Ukraine needs Estonia’s advise on the digitalisation of work processes, the organisation of archiving procedural documents, as well as the implementation of a quality management system that meets EU standards.  Ukrainians are particularly interested in our experience in joining the European Union and the European Patent Organisation. Among other things, practical tips on enforcement activities are awaited. We can also share experience on the organisation of the work of the Board of Appeal and alternative dispute resolution options.

Estonia has been monitoring compliance with the sanctions imposed against Russia and Belarus since the outbreak of the war, and the sanctions lists have been integrated into the information system of industrial property registers. We respond on a case-by-case basis to all requests by Ukrainian applicants and owners, and we are ready to extend the time limits set by law in order to ensure the legal protection of industrial property even in war conditions.

Ukraina kohtumine
The Director General of the Patent Office visited Kyiv in October 2023, along with the Executive Director of the EUIPO and colleagues from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Moldova


A meeting in Ukraine. In addition to Kyiv, visits were made to Bucha and Irpin. Photos: UANIPIO



Margus Viher
Margus Viher

Director General