Is ŻUBRÓWKA similar to ZUBROFF? What about BOSS vs Bossa Nova? Can using a single-letter mark be prohibited? Find the answers to these questions and explore other highlights in this overview prepared by our Intellectual Property team, covering Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.





Court imposes temporary protection from a political party on Sigulda municipality’s trademark “S!”

On 14 October 2022, the court ruled that until a final ruling is made the political party Stabilitātei! is not permitted to use its “S!” trademark, including for the purposes of advertising, promotional materials or on websites without permission from Sigulda municipal administration.

The municipality highlighted that the trademark is an officially recognised symbol of Sigulda region and is used in support programmes for citizens and local entrepreneurs. The trademark is also commonly used in different industries such as tourism, furniture, food, souvenirs and others to indicate that a product was created in Sigulda.  The municipality turned to the court in order to prevent misleading associations with its values.

The leader of the political party stated that the temporary protection is a political decision. He argued that municipalities and political parties are not commercial market participants, and that, in his opinion, only trademarks that generate income should be protected.

Since the beginning of the pre-election campaign, during which the party Stabilitātei! used “S!” symbols, the municipality of Sigulda has turned to several institutions – the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB), the State Police, the Competition Council and the Patent Office – and has also submitted a claim to the court.

The court proceedings are still in progress.


Estonia placed 10th in Europe in the WIPO Global Innovation ranking

On September 29, the results of the Global Innovation Index (the GII) survey held by WIPO were published. The study involved 132 economies, which were assessed against roughly 80 indicators grouped into innovation inputs and outputs. In general, Estonia’s performance under the GII was higher than was expected for its level of development. The last year has been very successful for the innovative development of Estonia, and WIPO claims that Estonia has made significant progress.

Estonia is ranked 18th among all the 132 economies surveyed, while in Europe, Estonia is on 10th place. Estonia has significantly increased its results in innovative inputs (e.g. graduates in science and engineering, venture capital received); however, the results of innovative outputs (e.g. patents by origin, high-tech manufacturing) are lower than in 2020 and 2021. Compared with high-income countries and European in general, Estonia performs very well in the following two categories: market sophistication and institutions.

The WIPO Global Innovation Index 2022 report regarding Estonia is available here.

Decision of the Industrial Property Board of Appeal on BOSS vs Bossa Nova

In early November, the Estonian Industrial Property Board of Appeal published a decision according to which the designation of the international trademark (figurative) Bossa Nova to Estonia was invalidated.

HUGO BOSS Trade Martk Management GmbH & Co. KG filed for the invalidation of the rights of Obshchestvo s ogranichennoy otvetstvennostyu “MASHUK” by claiming that the latter’s trademark Bossa Nova (figurative) is confusingly similar to its prior trademark BOSS. Both companies operate in the field of clothing and underwear, and thus the trademarks under comparison were protected with regard to similar goods and services.

Since Obshchestvo s ogranichennoy otvetstvennostyu “MASHUK” did not respond to HUGO BOSS Trade Martk Management GmbH & Co. KG’s claim, the Board of Appeal used its right to grant a request for invalidation in case when it is not manifestly unjustified, without giving any justifications.

The decision of the Estonian Industrial property Board of Appeal is available here.


ŻUBRÓWKA versus ZUBROFF: assessing the likelihood of confusion between two marks

The Lithuanian State Patent Bureau has ruled in an opposition submitted by CEDC International SP. Z.O.O.O (the Applicant) to registration of the trademark “ZUBROFF” in Class 33 (the opposed trademark) belonging to Olimp – Consult Limited Liability Company.

The Applicant is the owner of four earlier registered trademarks, all of which include the element “ŻUBRÓWKA“ and are registered in Class 33.

The Patent Bureau followed its traditional approach when deciding on the likelihood of confusion between the Applicant‘s trademarks and the opposed trademark, evaluating visual, phonetical and conceptual similarity.

According to the Patent Bureau, the visual similarity between the marks was considerable as the first letters of the marks coincide, and the number of letters in the words is similar. The conclusion regarding the phonetical similarity was the same. When deciding on the question of conceptual similarity, the Patent Bureau concluded that the repetition of the identical text “ZUBR” in the comparable marks leads to the conclusion that the marks are liable to evoke similar semantic associations in the minds of the consumers who are aware of the meaning of those words. For those who do not understand the origin of the words, they may simply be words in another language, which do not convey any apparent meaning.

In addition, the Applicant submitted a public survey, which was also taken into account by the Patent Bureau. The survey confirmed the fact that a significant proportion of respondents to the survey indicated that the marks were similar.

The Patent Bureau, having considered all the circumstances, decided to uphold the opposition and not register the trademark “ZUBROFF”. The decision of the Lithuanian State Patent Bureau may still be appealed to the Vilnius Regional Court.


Check out the September edition of intellectual property highlights.

Our international intellectual property team is at your disposal, should you need advice on any legal issues you are facing.