Revised Latvian Trademark Law implemented
The Latvian Trademark Law has been amended to comply with the Community Trademark Directive, the Community Trademark Regulation and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. A special new Chapter determines the relationship between national and Community trademarks. The revised law came into force when Latvia joined the European Union on May 1.
The main amendments are as follows:
- The principle of national trademark rights exhaustion has been replaced by the principle of European Economic Area-wide exhaustion.
- Article 6 has been amended to provide that an application containing an indication of geographical origin may be refused if the goods claimed do not originate from that geographical area or if the use of such a trademark will infringe the legal provisions protecting indications of geographical origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs.
- Article 9 has been amended to provide new grounds for invalidation based on earlier rights. Article 9(4) now provides that "[invalidation proceedings can be based] on an unregistered trademark or another sign [that] is used to distinguish goods of one undertaking from another as well as a domain name [that] has been used substantially before the filing date or the priority date".
- Article 17 has been added to allow a trademark applicant to appeal any final decision of the Patent Office within three months of receiving notice of the decision. The Patent Office may without any delay revoke or amend its decision if it considers such an appeal to have foundation. If the decision is not revoked within two weeks of an appeal being filed, the Patent Office will transmit it to the Board of Appeals.(1)
- Articles 24 and 25 have been added to deal with property rights in a trademark (rights in rem) such as security interests, bankruptcy, licensing and co-ownership.(2)
- Part VIII on Community trademarks has been added, extending the Community trademark system to Latvia. All existing Community trademark registrations have been automatically extended to the new member states from the day of accession. Community trademarks with a filing date prior to May 1 2004 only enjoy rights in Latvia commencing on May 1 2004.(3)
- Article 39(1) provides that the owner of a Community trademark that has a reputation in the European Union and is identical or similar to a later trademark registered according to national or international procedures in Latvia has the right to file an opposition against the registration of the later trademark, even if the relevant goods and services are dissimilar, provided that (i) use of the later trademark takes unfair advantage of, or is detrimental to, the distinctive character or repute of the Community trademark, or (ii) consumers may perceive the use of the later trademark as indicating a connection in the course of trade between the relevant goods or services and the owner of the Community trademark, and such use may damage the interests of the owner of the Community trademark.
- Article 39(1) also provides that in the case of an opposition based on an earlier Community trademark the owner of the junior mark is entitled to request proof of use in accordance with Article 15 of the Community Trademark Regulation. If such an opposition is based on a Community trademark registered before May 1 2004, the non-use period starts on May 1 2004.
- Article 39(2) provides that, in conformity with the provisions of Articles 106(1) and 142 of the Community Trademark Regulation, the owner of an earlier right to a trademark in Latvia that was obtained in good faith has the right to prohibit use of a Community trademark registered or filed for registration before May 1 2004.
- Article 39(5) provides that the owner of a Community trademark registration or an application has the right to convert it into a national trademark application. The filing date in Latvia is considered as the same date as the filing date of the Community trademark, including priority and seniority dates (if applicable to Latvia). If a Community trademark has been filed or registered before May 1 2004, the filing date of the application for conversion of the Community trademark will be May 1 2004 and the priority dates will not apply.
- It is possible for Latvian applicants (eg, Latvian citizens and legal entities registered in Latvia as defined in Article 25 of the Community Trademark Regulation) to file an application for a Community trademark registration through the Latvian Patent Office, which will then relay it to the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market.
Valentina Sergeyeva, Strahlberg & Partners, Riga
(1) Stephen James: "Enlargement of the European Union - The Impact on European Community Trademark Rights" - paper given at the International Trademark Association Annual Meeting, Atlanta 2004.
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