Green Party blocks bad-faith trademark applications
In addition to its success during the Estonian parliamentary elections held in March 2007, as a result of which it is now represented in the Estonian Parliament, the Estonian Green Party has recently managed to defend its rights in its name. The Estonian Board of Appeal upheld its opposition against the registration of the marks EESTI ROHELINE ERAKOND and EESTI ROHELINE PARTEI (both meaning 'Estonian Green Party' in Estonian) (Decision 993-o, April 30 2007).
The applications were filed for services in Class 35 of the Nice Classification by an individual named Lea Kiivit, a party secretary of a competing party which operates under the name Rahvaliit.
In refusing the applications, the Board of Appeal noted the following points:
- As the Green Party was established some months after the filing of the opposed trademark applications, it could not claim any earlier rights in the EESTI ROHELINE ERAKOND and EESTI ROHELINE PARTEI marks. However, it could claim that the applications had been filed in bad faith.
- There existed absolute grounds for refusal of Kiivit's applications based on bad faith. The Board of Appeal accepted evidence of written notes of a dialogue in a television programme during which Kiivit admitted that she filed the trademark applications "for annoyance" and because she felt that the founding members of the Green Party were "not appropriate to establish and represent a green party". The roots of the conflict between Kiivit and the members of the Green Party stemmed from an earlier dispute regarding the creation of a landfill site for waste management, which was blocked due to violations of environmental law provisions.
- Although the applications for registration were filed prior to the creation of the Green Party, the board held that they had been made in bad faith as the imminent formation of the party was public knowledge at that time. This coupled with the fact that Kiivit is employed by the competing Rahvaliit Party and had no other plans for the trademarks other than to block others from using them was further evidence of a bad-faith intent.
Almar Sehver, AAA Legal Services, Tallinn
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