Appeal and opposition procedures overhauled
The Estonian president has promulgated a new law that harmonizes separate laws relating to the registration of intellectual property rights. The new law, which mainly amends appeal and opposition procedures, is expected to come into force on January 1 2004. Appeal proceedings involve the Patent and Trademark Office's (PTO) decision to register or not to register a mark. Opposition proceedings involve third parties that oppose a trademark registration that the PTO has granted.
Under the new law, all documents relating to a registration will be made public, except where information is designated by the applicant as commercial secret. The PTO and the Board of Appeal, set up under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications as the dispute resolution authority for intellectual property issues, will take guidance from EU national and community case law where neither Estonian law nor international treaties regulate a specific issue.
The main changes, however, relate to the procedures of the Board of Appeal:
- The chairman of the board will have to make a decision on the admissibility of an appeal or opposition within 15 days of filing.
- A designated member of the board will have three months to review appeals and oppositions that have been deemed admissible.
- The PTO will no longer be a party in opposition proceedings but will remain a party in appeal proceedings.
- Oral proceedings will become exceptional; written proceedings will be the rule.
- An appeal decision by the board may be appealed again to the Administrative Court. An opposition decision by the board may be appealed to the Administrative Court on the grounds of violation of procedural rules, and to a civil court if either of the parties disagrees with the board's decision.
Almar Sehver, AAA Legal Services, Tallinn
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