2023 was a very good year to protect intellectual property in Estonia. The number of applications filed for the protection of a trade mark increased by 10% and the number of patent applications filed in Estonia increased more than twice, in addition, Estonian people also filed applications directly with EUIPO, EPO and WIPO. We also got a new Estonian-language word – loomevara („creative asset“) – which, among other things, can save time and letter space when we talk about protecting intellectual property.

The year began with practical preparations for the new Unitary Patent system, which entered into force in the middle of the year (June 1). One important component of this system is the Unitary Patent Court (UPC). Representatives of the Estonian Patent Office participate in the work of the UPC Administrative Committee and Budget Committee.

The cooperation between the patent offices of the Baltic States was renewed. Tere were two work meetings, the first one in Vilnius, the second one in Tallinn. We also exchange information and experience with Latvian and Lithuanian colleagues on a daily basis.

As the war in Ukraine, initiated by Russia, continued for the second year, it is natural that the neighbours took up closer support and cooperation to help Ukraine. In March, the first meeting was held at the Polish Patent Office, where the heads of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian patent offices, as well as representatives of EUIPO and EPO, met in support of Ukraine. In Poland, a meeting was held and cooperation agreements were signed with Ukrainian colleagues. A visit to Kiev was also confirmed. This visit to Kiev, as well as to Butcha and Irpin, took place already in October last year – you can read more about it in the chapter on international cooperation.

Strong cooperation between the Nordic and Baltic Patent Offices continues, both in the framework of the meeting of the Directors General in Stockholm in May, and the meetings of sectoral working groups.

In May, Estonia had the pleasure of hosting and co-organising the PATLIB conference in Tallinn, which is further discussed in the chapter on information events.

Of the activities aimed at our clients and target groups, I would like to highlight the SME Fund, which was reopened in January, providing financial support for companies to protect intellectual property. 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.

On 1 June 2023, the European Union patent system with unitary effect entered into force. You can read more about it in the chapter of international cooperation. It can be mentioned beforehand that Estonian applicants have already registered 10 patents with unitary effect last year. During the first half-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.

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is going to settle disputes related to both a European patent with unitary effect and a European patent. From Estonia, you can contact the Baltic Judicial Unit in Stockholm, which connects Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Sessions of the Unitary Patent Court can also be held in Estonia. Kai Härmand from Estonia has also been elected a judge of the United Patent Court.

Work with young people continued. The Patent Office encourages students to protect their creations. Estonia has an extraordinary number of creative children and youngsters – this can be seen, among other things, by the number of participants in the annual National Contest of Young Inventors. This year, 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. New student companies are also registered every year, coming up with fresh ideas and smart solutions in different areas of life. But what young people and their supervisors often have no idea about is the need to protect their creation, or intellectual property – trade mark, design, and invention. In order to help decide how to best protect their creation, the Patent Office published a simple and compact intellectual property guide for students and their supervisors.

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. The joint special prize of the Estonian Patent Office and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) was awarded for the tenth time.

At the end of last year, a public word competition was held at the Patent Office, in the framework of which we searched for a convenient Estonian-language match for the word "intellectual property." You can read about this great initiative and its results in this annual report. We will start using the new word  chosen as a result of the competition – loomevara ("creative asset") – and will introduce it already here in this annual report, other publications and on our web site. Time will tell how the new word adapts in the language.

At the end of the year, preparations had to be made for the new year. For example, the Trade Mark Gazette started to be published twice a month from January 2024, instead of only once. Due to the accelerated procedure and the shortened examination queue, it was necessary to publish notices of registration decisions of marks more frequently, so that the advantages arising from the accelerated procedure would not be lost (the stages following the examination – publication, opposition and entry into the register – are shorter in the accelerated procedure). Changing the publication frequency became possible after the entry into force of the amendments to the Trade Mark Regulation and some technical preparations.

Amendments to the law, which allow replacing the protection documents that have been issued on paper so far with digital ones, also became ready for implementation. This concerns the letters patent and the utility model certificate. With the trade mark certificate and industrial design certificate, this step was taken years ago when we introduced a new procedural software. In the case of inventions, all of this is still to come and new procedural software should be available to our patent examiners and registry holders in the first half of the new year.

The Patent Office has now also been active in the field of copyright for some time. Due to great interest, we added a copyright information phone line to our current information channels. This will start working in early 2024, but the preliminary work was completed last year. The Patent Office's free copyright consultation phone +372 5867 7703 will answer calls every Tuesday from 10 AM to 1 PM. You can continue to contact the Patent Office with copyright issues via e-mail

To sum up, I would like to mention  the Global Innovation Index (GII) that was released on 27 September in Geneva, ranking countries on the basis of innovation capabilities. Our Prime Minister Kaja Kallas also held a speech on this high level event. Estonia ranks 16th among the132 countries in the 2023 Innovation Index, which is the best result ever. 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.

For years, the Patent Office has implemented a quality management system certified in accordance with the ISO standard. A regular audit conducted in 2023 showed that the work of the Patent Office complies with the requirements of ISO 9001: 2015. The ISO certificate guarantees the quality of the services provided by the Patent Office – our services are accessible, reliable and secure both now and in the future.

I would like to thank all of my colleagues and cooperation partners both at home and in the world for the fact that our intellectual property continues to grow and that it remains well protected!


Margus Viher
Margus Viher

Director General