In Estonia, it is possible to apply for the protection of trade marks under the Trade Marks Act that took effect on 1 May 2004 (the first Trade Marks Act entered into force in 1992). From 1 May 2004, the EU legal acts concerning trade marks are also valid in Estonia.
Since spring 2007, it has been possible to file trade mark applications through an electronic filing portal. The portal enables to fill in and send trade mark registration applications to the Estonian Patent Office and to look at the applications filed earlier. Anyone can fill in the form, but only the applicant (or a patent attorney representing him/her) can sign it. Estonian ID-card and its reader are required. 88% of Estonian applicants used the possibility of e-filing in 2021. Other documents relating to the examination can be filed electronically with a digital signature. For trade mark applications submitted from 1 January 2017, only electronic procedure is used.
Since older files were digitized in 2019 and applications for international registration can only be filed electronically from 2020, the whole trade mark procedure is now paperless.
There are four possibilities to obtain legal protection for a trade mark in Estonia:
- by registering it in the register of trade marks and service marks by filing an application with the Estonian Patent Office;
- by registering it with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), requesting legal protection in Estonia;
- by making a trade mark well known in Estonia;
- by registering it as an European Union trade mark with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
1,586 trade mark registration applications were filed in 2021 (1,403 applications in 2020). Estonian applicants filed 1,371 applications (1,239 in 2020). International trade mark registrations designating Estonia numbered 890 (943 in 2020). In total 2,476 trade marks were filed for legal protection (2,346 in 2020).
By the end of the year, 2,063,547 European Union trade marks were valid in Estonia (including 4,668 trade marks from Estonia), 25,964 registered national trade marks and 27,137 international trade marks with legal protection extended to Estonia.
Estonian applicants filed 41 international trade mark registration applications for forwarding to WIPO (31 in 2020). There were 83 countries among the countries designated for protection. The European Union was designated 20 times, United Kingdom and Russia 15, USA and Lithuania 14, Latvia 13 and Ukraine 12 times.
In 2021, Estonian applicants made up 55.5% of the total of trade mark applications. Among other states Russia was the most interested in gaining legal protection in Estonia. Applications and international registrations from Russia formed 6.8% of the total of applications, followed by China (5%), Switzerland (3.2%) and USA (3%).
The most popular goods for which legal protection was applied in 2021 were electronic and computing apparatus (6.4%), cereal products and confectionery (4.9%), pharmaceutical preparations (4.7%), meat and dairy products (3.3%) and clothing and footwear (3.2%).
The most popular services were advertising, business management and office functions (10.9%), followed by education, training, entertainment, cultural and sports activities (7.3%), scientific and technological services (4.5%), services for providing food and accommodation (4.2%) and insurance, financial affairs and real estate affairs (4%).
For those who are interested, including the Customs Authorities, Police and Commercial Register, the Trade Marks Database is available on the Office’s web page. This contains data about registered and pending trade marks, as well as international registrations designating Estonia. The database is updated every day, so the data is always up to date.
Following the amendments to the Trade Marks Act which entered into force on 1 April 2019, the Estonian Patent Office no longer examines the existence of earlier rights, but only the absolute circumstances that preclude the legal protection of trade marks as set out in Section 9 of the Trade Marks Act.
The average duration of the examination of trade mark applications and international registrations was 2.3 months. The average duration is calculated from the receipt of the application until the decision on registration is made, if there are no deficiencies in the application.
On 12 October 2020, the Estonian Patent Office started offering a new service – an accelerated procedure for trade mark applications. An application for an accelerated procedure must comply with certain conditions which allow the registration decision to be made in a shorter period of time. The procedure proved to be very popular among applicants. In 2021, almost 50% of national applications were submitted as an application for an accelerated procedure. On average, such applications managed to reach either the registration decision or (in case of problems) the first notification in 8 to 9 days, i.e. half as fast as the estimated processing time of 3 to 4 weeks as described on the website.
Trade marks are published in the Estonian Trade Mark Gazette twice – first, in Part I when the decision on trade mark registration has been made, and second, in Part III after the trade mark has been entered into the register of trade marks and service marks. International registrations are published for appeal in Part II of the Gazette.
Disputes concerning trade marks are resolved in the Industrial Property Board of Appeals, and in court. In 2021, 4 oppositions were granted in the Industrial Property Board of Appeals.