In the constantly changing realm of intellectual property, it is crucial to stay informed about recent developments and noteworthy cases. Our Intellectual Property team has compiled a collection of highlights from Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia to keep you abreast of the latest trends and legal insights. These highlights offer a glimpse into recent trademark disputes, legislative amendments, trade secret litigation, domain usage rules, and copyright matters.
- Long-awaited amendments to the Copyrights Law and Trade Mark Law have entered into force
- Latvia has one of the highest number of instances of trade secret litigation in the EU
- New domain usage rules enter into force
- Is it permitted to use ideas seen in well-known works?
- Tanel Toom’s Last Sentinel, the production of which was advised on by Sorainen, has been nominated for five prestigious awards
- Sorainen’s experts attending ECTA
- “Clean&Tidy TOP QUALITY PRODUCT” v. “TIDY CATS” – assessing the likelihood of confusion between two marks
Long-awaited amendments to the Copyrights Law and Trade Mark Law have entered into force
- On 7 March 2023 amendments to the Trade Mark Law entered into force. More about the amendments in our previous IP highlights here and in our newsflash here (in Latvian).
- On 5 April 2023 amendments to the Copyright Law entered into force. More about the amendments in our previous IP highlights here and our newsflash here (in Latvian).
Latvia has one of the highest number of instances of trade secret litigation in the EU
In the last five years, Latvia has had one of the highest number of instances of litigation (8) related to violations of trade secrets in the European Union. Although the number of instances of litigation is not measured in dozens, as is the case in several other countries, taking into account the criteria related to economic activity the level in Latvia is disproportionately high.
Based on the defined criteria and corresponding calculations, proportionally there should have only been one case of litigation related to the disclosure of trade secrets in Latvia during this period. The most frequent violations were found in production (32%), trade (11%), and the finance and insurance sector (7%), as well as the science sector (7%).
New domain usage rules enter into force
Amendments have introduced a new option for dispute resolution: alternative resolution of out-of-court disputes. As part of this, the parties involved in the dispute will be able to find a solution faster. Previously, the agreement stipulated that disputes regarding the right to use “.lv” domain names were heard in courts of general jurisdiction or arbitration courts. Out-of-court alternative dispute resolution will be available upon approval by the service provider, which has not yet been chosen
The amendments also provide a new price for “.lv” domain names.
Additionally, the amendments implement (GlobalBlock – a global project to protect the interests of trademark holders in various national and generic top-level domains). This will be available following its implementation by the cooperation partner.
Is it permitted to use ideas seen in well-known works?
Sorainen senior associate Olivia Kranich was asked to comment on a cover photo controversy in relation to copyrights. The cover photo of an upcoming biography of a local influencer stirred up quite a buzz due to its uncanny resemblance to a 2014 magazine cover featuring Kim Kardashian.
Olivia Kranich explained that the copyright for Kim Kardashian’s photo rests with the original creator, not the person in the picture – in this case, Jean-Paul Goude. Copyright, she clarified, safeguards original works expressed in a tangible form that can be seen and reproduced. So using someone else’s photo without permission is a no-go.
But here’s the twist: copyright doesn’t protect ideas. In this case, the photo is not a direct copy but rather a similar one based on the same concept. So, it all boils down to whether it is too similar and potentially infringes on Goude’s copyright.
To determine whether this is the case, the court would assess what elements of Goude’s work are protected – think lighting, composition, angles and shadows, but not the underlying pose. Should copyright infringement be proven, Kranich outlines the potential remedies: cease and desist, compensation for damages, and forfeiting any ill-gotten gains. Read more here.
Tanel Toom’s Last Sentinel, the production of which was advised on by Sorainen, has been nominated for five prestigious awards
The British National Film Academy has nominated Last Sentinel for no fewer than five categories this year. The film has been selected as a nominee for the “Best Drama” category. Furthermore, the film will have its premiere at the Shanghai Film Festival later this week. In addition to this, the film is also nominated in the “Best Leading Actress” category (for Kate Bosworth) and the “Best Leading Actor” category (for Lucien Laviscount). Additionally, it has a chance for an award in the “Best Thriller” and “Action Film” categories.
Sorainen was involved at all stages of the project – from negotiating the terms of co-production and financing to drafting and reviewing the various contracts common in such film projects. Of key importance for the producers was securing the eligibility of the project for the local film cash-rebate schemes.
Congratulations to Tanel Toom and the whole team! Read more about the awards here.
Sorainen’s experts attending ECTA
Last month our intellectual property experts Marina Golovnitskaya and Olivia Kranich participated in the annual ECTA conference in Prague, Czech Republic. More than 800 professionals in the fields of trademarks, designs, copyright and other intellectual property rights within the European Union gathered together for networking and discussions regarding intellectual property regulation. The theme of the conference was “Exploring IP Magic” and this year’s presentations and discussions focused on the following topics:
- online infringements (dynamic and/or live injunctions)
- design regulation reform
- counterfeit goods and enforcement of infringements
- brands in sports
- geographical indications outside the field of agriculture
- works of applied arts (combining art, design and consumer needs)
- geographical names as trademarks
- bad faith and public policy or principles of morality
Read more about ECTA’s events here.
“Clean&Tidy TOP QUALITY PRODUCT” v. “TIDY CATS” – assessing the likelihood of confusion between two marks
The State Patent Bureau has examined a dispute between Société des Produits Nestlé S.A., an interested party, and SIA Gemaga Group, an applicant. In the opposition proceedings, Nestlé argued that Gemaga’s “Clean&Tidy TOP QUALITY PRODUCT” was confusingly similar to Nestlé’s “TIDY CATS” trademark.
The State Patent Bureau assessed the overlapping word element “tidy” in both marks. The Bureau accepted the applicant’s argument concerning the word “tidy”, which is repeated in the marks, being a descriptive element (the English word “tidy” means “neat, clean”). Thus, it is acknowledged that this element is, by its very nature, weakly distinctive in relation to the goods registered in Class 31. Therefore, the mere coincidence of this verbal element cannot automatically lead to a similarity between the marks.
After examining the disputed marks, the State Patent Bureau concluded that the contested mark consists of a combination of both verbal and visual elements, where the stylised pawprint is a prominent and clearly distinguishable feature at the center of the mark.
By the nature of its execution, it forms an integral composition with the descriptive words constituting the mark, and its presence in the contested mark, therefore, contributes to the individualisation of the mark, all of which implies a different visual impression of the marks. Accordingly, the mere coincidence of the element “tidy”, which is weakly distinctive, is insufficient to find that the marks are similar.
As a result, the Bureau rejected Nestlé’s opposition, finding that there were insufficient grounds to recognise a similarity between the two marks.
Check out the March 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.