Parliament considers overhaul of Board of Appeal proceedings

Estonia

The Estonian Parliament is examining a bill that intends to correct the shortcomings of the Principles of Legal Regulation of Industrial Property Act (PLRIPA), which came into force on May 1 2004.

The PLRIPA regulates:

  • the status and maintenance of industrial property registers;

  • the registrar of each register - including status and financing; and

  • the status and financing of the Industrial Property Board of Appeal.

The Board of Appeal was set up as an extra-judicial body competent to (i) hear appeals of the registrars' decisions, and (ii) conduct opposition proceedings (see New Board of Appeal rules implemented). However, various problems have arisen in connection with the board's activities, which the bill proposes to correct by making the following adjustments:

  • The Patent Office will be added to the list of parties that the board must inform of any:

    • new appeal or opposition;

    • rejection of an appeal or opposition; and

    • acceptance of an appeal or opposition for processing.

  • The number of written opinions will be limited to one per party to avoid any delay in the proceedings. The PLRIPA currently provides that upon acceptance of an appeal or opposition for processing, the board shall (i) send a copy of the appeal or opposition to the other participant in the proceedings, and (ii) request the submission of written opinions. At present, the language of the PLRIPA could be interpreted as meaning that the parties can submit an unlimited number of opinions.
  • The process to submit final opinions will be clarified. According to the PLRIPA, after the written opinion of the defendant has been forwarded to the opponent or appellant and examined by the board, the parties have one month to submit their final opinions. Under the proposed changes, the board will first request the appellant or opponent's final statement and then that of the other party, in order to give the defendant the final word. A new rule will also preclude parties from submitting additional opinions or documents after the one-month term has elapsed.

  • Additional provisions will enable the Board of Appeal to proceed with cancellation actions filed before May 1 2004 against trademarks on the register. The new Trademarks Act, which came into force on May 1 2004, provides that cancellation actions against registered trademarks can only be filed with the Tallinn City Court. Therefore the Board of Appeal is not competent to process cancellation actions filed after May 1 2004. However, the additional provisions will make it possible for the board to issue decisions in proceedings initiated before the new law came into force.

The bill is expected to be implemented at the end of the Spring.

Sven Pääsukene, Käosaar & Co, Tartu

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