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. 90% of Estonian applicants used the possibility of e-filing in 2022. Other documents relating to the examination can be filed electronically with a digital signature. Because only an electronic procedural file is used for trade mark applications filed after January 1, 2017, older trade mark files have been digitized, and international registration applications can also be filed electronically, the entire 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 a European Union trade mark with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
1,061 trade mark registration applications were filed in 2022 (1,586 applications in 2021). Estonian applicants filed 889 applications (1,371 in 2021). International trade mark registrations designating Estonia numbered 817 (890 in 2021). In total 1,878 trade marks were filed for legal protection (2,476 in 2021).
By the end of the year, 2,228,395 European Union trade marks (including 5,428 trade marks from Estonia) and 26,059 registered national trade marks were valid in Estonia and 20,203 international registrations were valid in Estonia, which are subject to legal protection in Estonia.
Estonian applicants filed 50 international trade mark registration applications for forwarding to WIPO (41 in 2021). There was a record number of countries where protection was requested – 108. The United Kingdom was the most frequently requested for trade mark protection (25 times), followed by Norway (19 times). European Union (17 times), USA (16 times), China and Ukraine (both 14 times) were also popular.
In 2022, Estonian applicants made up 47.5% of the total of trade mark applications. Among other states Russia (6.4%) was the most interested in gaining legal protection in Estonia, followed by China (5.3%), Latvia (3.2%), USA and Germany (both 2.8%).
The most popular goods for which legal protection was applied in 2022 were electronic and computing apparatus (7.6%), pharmaceutical preparations (5%), cereal products and confectionery (4%), cosmetic products (3.9%) and clothing and footwear (3.5%).
The most popular services were advertising, business management and office functions (10.9%), followed by education, training, entertainment, cultural and sports activities (7.9%), insurance, financial affairs and real estate affairs (5.8%), scientific and technological services (5.2%), services for providing food and accommodation (3.7%).
For those who are interested, including the Customs Authorities, Police and Business 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.
In 2022, the average examination time for national trademark applications was 1.2 months, while the examination time for international registrations was 3.4 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 allows the registration decision to be made in a shorter period of time. The procedure proved to be very popular among applicants. In 2022, 57% 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 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 2022, no oppositions were granted in the Industrial Property Board of Appeals.
The year 2022 was not favorable for business owners due to the unstable economic and political situation. Despite this, there was interest in the potential for safeguarding one’s intellectual property, as evidenced by the 1,110 consultations on trademark and design that the trade mark department’s experts provided during the year. As a brand-new initiative, we began choosing a trade mark of the month – we highlight one exceptional trade mark that was registered this month. The trade mark owners have been delighted by our initiative, and hopefully it will serve as an example for upcoming applicants.