Latvia

Although there is more work to be done in terms of educating domestic businesses, Latvian companies – particularly within the country’s growing fintech and IT industries – are becoming increasingly cognisant of IP issues and the importance of trademark protection. While this is helping to fuel Latvian filing activities, more and more companies are pursuing international trademark strategies. As a result, competition for work has increased among firms offering IP services, which helps to explain the recent spate of recruitment and consolidation that has reshaped the market.

Firms

H
Agency Tria Robit
COBALT Legal
Ellex Klavins
Eversheds Sutherland Bitāns
Petersona Patents
SORAINEN
Agency Tria Robit
Agency Tria Robit is the largest trademark and patent agency in Latvia and a force to be reckoned with in Eastern Europe. The side produces sterling work across both non-contentious and contentious fronts. “To the point and incredibly efficient”, the firm offers a “simple, direct, uncomplicated, cost-effective and responsive” service. High-profile and complex opposition proceedings are bread and butter to Tria Robit’s practitioners. Volkswagen and the Comité Interprofessionel du vin de Champagne are two famous names to have benefited from the crew’s especially deft touch before the Latvian Patent Office’s Board of Appeals. Vladimir Anohin is the firm’s talismanic senior partner, a professional to count on whatever form of IP protection you require. When it comes to brands, he is particularly renowned for his expertise in regulation relating to alcoholic beverages.
COBALT Legal
COBALT Legal may be Latvia’s largest commercial law firm, but “its experience in intellectual property is unparalleled”. Having merged with the Latvian office of Borenius in 2016, the firm has been capitalising on its increased strength in depth to render a tip-top, end-to-end trademark protection and enforcement service to a bevy of A-list clients, including Sandoz, Ferrero, Philip Morris International and Starbucks. Whatever the task at hand, “the group never fails to surpass expectations”, thanks in large measure to the inspiring leadership of Ingrīda Kariņa-Bērziņa. The dual-qualified Latvian and US lawyer is in high demand and has been spearheading enforcement efforts for Maus Freres International Services (for its Lacoste and GANT brands), as well as maintaining its substantial trademark portfolio across the Baltic countries and Belarus. She has also been advising – among many other clients – leading Finnish alcohol producer Altia on its portfolio management strategy. As one respondent avers: “One of Ingrīda’s most valuable characteristics is her proactivity.” She is “an exceptional expert, her vast experience shines through at all times. She is highly knowledgeable on European and US trademark law and takes a practical approach to each case”. Additional support is provided by senior associate Līga Fjodorova, “a diligent professional who knows exactly what she is doing”.
Ellex Klavins
Ellex Klavins, the Latvian member of established Baltic business law firm group Ellex, “provides an excellent level of service in intellectual property” via a specialised department replete with “highly professional and experienced lawyers who understand business objectives”. The past year has been one of positive change for the firm, which merged with Glimstedt and, as a result, can draw on additional resources across all departments. No-nonsense brand enforcement is a speciality for the trademark division; this was brought into sharp focus when it took over a number of important cases for Sky International, which included successfully opposing the registration of ‘Skyworth’ in Latvia. Regularly advising The Coca-Cola Company and ExxonMobile on domestic trademark registrations and renewals, the group is no slouch when it comes to general counselling. Mārtiņš Gailis holds the reins for the IP practice, which he captains with poise and precision.
Eversheds Sutherland Bitāns
Global powerhouse Eversheds Sutherland Bitāns can quickly extinguish any international trademark conflagration, and stands out in the Latvian market for its litigation and dispute resolution dexterity. Forming the vanguard for the most complex cases is managing partner Agris Bitāns, “an experienced and strong IP litigator whom judges take as an authority”. Eschewing a cookie-cutter approach, “he keeps many different options open, which is highly beneficial”. Recently, he acted for leading domestic tour operator Latvia Tours in a convoluted dispute against a competitor regarding the use of domains and unregistered trademarks, not only winning a verdict of infringement of his client’s rights, but deftly executing the court’s judgment. Partnering with Bitāns for Latvia Tours was head of intellectual property Inese Kalnāja-Zelča, a “high-level professional and customer-oriented problem solver”. Her business-minded insight resonates with many blue-chip brand owners, including Samsung, she also provides day-to-day operational and strategic advice to the Korean chaebol’s Latvian subsidiary.
Petersona Patents
It is said that you can tell a lot about someone by the company they keep, and Petersona Patents’ collaboration with leading Estonian and Lithuanian IP specialist AAA has burnished its already excellent reputation. Having plied its trade since shortly after Latvia gained independence from Russia in 1991, the “leading agency” mines a rich seam of experience to serve up perspicacious and nuanced advice to both domestic and international clients. Head of the legal and anti-counterfeiting wing, Gatis Meržvinskis is the man to call when things get heated. In March 2017 he added to his exemplary track record before the IP Office’s Board of Appeals by winning an opposition for Deckers Outdoor Corporation, which bolstered protection for the company’s famous UGG boot brand.
SORAINEN
SORAINEN’s IP unit sits within the firm’s commercial division and the fact that its trademark advice is laced with business and regulatory insight therefore comes as no surprise. The pan-Baltic force knows what it is good at and, rather than spreading itself too thin, concentrates on handling its clients’ most complex disputes and critical protection concerns. Agris Repšs is one of the busiest and best IP litigators in the country. A persuasive advocate, he recently secured a favourable ruling for Olympic Casino Latvia in an opposition – this was particularly notable given the Board of Appeals’ previous caution surrounding potential conflicts with the famous marks associated with the Olympic Games. “Although he has a packed schedule, Agris is always ready and open to address any issue quickly, without being too formal about the client relationship.”

Individuals

Vladimir Anohin - Agency Tria Robit
Agris Bitāns - Eversheds Sutherland Bitāns
Līga Fjodorova - COBALT Legal
Jevgenijs Fortuna - FORAL Patent Law Office
Mārtiņš Gailis - Ellex Klavins
Inese Kalnāja-Zelča - Eversheds Sutherland Bitāns
Ingrīda Kariņa-Bērziņa - COBALT Legal
Ineta Krodere - Vilgerts Legal & Tax
Gatis Meržvinskis - Petersona Patents
Agris Repšs - SORAINEN
Janis Rozenfelds - Rozenfelds & Partners
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Issue 74