In Estonia, the protection of industrial designs can be applied for on the grounds of the Industrial Designs Protection Act that entered into force on 11 January 1998. From 1 May 2004, legal acts concerning Community designs, including the Council Regulation 6/2002/EC of 12 December 2001 on legal protection of the Community Designs, are also valid in Estonia.
Pursuant to the Regulation, all industrial designs disclosed to public in the territory of the European Union automatically have a 3-year protection against copying as well as other existing possibilities for registration.
Estonia acceded to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs on 23 December 2003. Common Regulations of the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the Deposit of Industrial Design entered into force on 1 April 2004. To protect an industrial design via the Hague system, an application in English or French should be filed with the International Bureau of WIPO in Geneva, designating the countries where protection is wanted.
In Estonia, industrial designs are registered by formal registration system. The Estonian Patent Office does not examine the industrial design as to its novelty, individual character, industrial applicability or the right of a person to file the application.
In 2021, the Estonian Patent Office received 40 industrial design registration applications, exactly the same amount as last year. 36 people looking to register an industrial design were from Estonia and 4 were from other countries. All applicants used the possibility to submit an electronic application. Estonian applicants submitted 182 applications to the European Union Intellectual Property Office, which is in the same range as in 2020 (184). Applications filed like that will acquire protection in the whole territory of the European Union, including Estonia.
The number of applications for international registration of industrial designs filed under the Hague Agreement has also remained the same. In 2021, 35 applications were filed this way (36 in 2020).
By the end of 2021, there were 10 national applications and 18 international applications pending. On 31 December 2021 there were in total 370 industrial designs in the Estonian register of industrial designs.
For those who are interested can use the database of industrial designs on the website of the Estonian Patent Office, which contains data on registered and pending industrial designs, as well as international registrations designating Estonia. The database is updated every day, so the data is always up to date.
Despite the exceptional year because of coronavirus, the number of industrial design applications has remained stable. However, the interest in the legal protection of industrial designs is much higher than the number of applications – we have consulted people over telephone and e-mail 137 times.
Seminars on copyright and design organized virtually have also been successful and without problems. Unlike seminars in the classroom, significantly more people can participate this way. On the negative side, it makes discussion and debate difficult. However, it is good to know that even if it becomes possible to organize seminars in the classroom again as the situation returns to normal, there will always be the ability and experience to organize webinars as a backup option.