On 1 January 2016 the long-awaited Law on Industrial Property Institutions and Regulations (hereinafter: the Law) came into force.
It needs hardly be said that intellectual property, especially industrial property, such as patents, industrial design, indications of geographical origin and trademarks, plays a significant role in the international competitiveness of a country's economy. Proper protection of industrial property requires proper registration, appellation and opposition procedures. What improvements would benefit inventors and others seeking to register and protect their innovations?
Improved procedure for examination of appeals and oppositions
The basic improvements of the Law lay down the procedure for appeals against decisions of the Latvian Industrial Property Office – the Latvian Patent Office – and also for examining oppositions against the registration of others industrial property rights. Although the institution for the examination of both appeals and oppositions is one and the same – the Appellation Council of Industrial Property (hereinafter: the Appellation Council) – the Law makes a list of detailed provisions established with a view to ensuring the functional independence of the Appellation Council from the Patent Office which is still responsible for the administration of the Appellation Council.
The Law also provides for a more detailed procedure for reviewing appeals and oppositions by the Appellation Council. Inter alia, it confers discretion on the Appellation Council to examine the case in written proceedings or in verbal hearings.
Improved logical structure for general provisions, common to all types of industrial property
The Latvian substantive law regulating each type of industrial property has still remained divided, so each type of industrial property is regulated by its own law, be it the Patent Law, the Law on Trademarks and Indications of Geographical Origin, the Industrial Design Law and others. However, before the Law took effect, general provisions, like the regulations regarding professional industrial property attorneys or the Appellation Council, had been included in the Patent Law. This created a risk of misunderstandings, if, for instance, a person interested in learning the regulations for professional trademark attorneys were not informed that he or she should also have examined the provisions of the Patent Law, besides the Law on Trademarks and the Law on Trademarks and Indications of Geographical Origin. Now such general provisions applicable to all types of industrial property are covered in the Law.
Time test for the Law
It is still early days to reach a conclusion on the legal efficacy of this new Law but testing out the new provisions in practice will show whether any major improvements are required.
"We should note that according to the provisions of the Law, if a party is not satisfied with a decision of the appellation council, it may within a three-month period launch a respective claim to the specially determined court of first instance which shall examine the claim in civil proceedings."
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