On 6 February 2020, the Latvian parliament (the Saeima) adopted a new Trade Marks Law at the third and final reading. The law entered into force on 6 March 2020.
During the drafting of the new law, some initiatives proposed by our Latvia office partner, sworn attorney Andris Tauriņš, were implemented in the new law. For example, the previous law required commercial usage of a trademark in order to show a trademark infringement. Andris suggested that the trademark owner should have the right to limit the usage of infringing trademarks not only in commercial activity (in the meaning of the Commercial law) but also in much broader economic activity. This idea is now reflected in the new law.
Andris also contributed to the development of more suitable domain name regulation. The new law entitles a trademark owner to prohibit usage of a mark in a domain name if the website in question is used for product and service distribution. In the case of trademark infringement, the court may decide on cancellation or transfer of the domain name.
A sign that can constitute a trademark
Unlike current regulation, the new law increases the range of signs that can constitute a trademark. Until now, trademarks may be words, graphic, three-dimensional, a combination and specific or special types, for example, sound or light signals. However, under the new law, a trademark can consist of a sign such as words, figurative, three-dimensional, positioning, ornamental, colour, sound, movement, multimedia, and holographic marks.
The owner of a trademark
In the future, not only a natural or legal person but also an association of persons can be the owner of a trademark if the association is capable of acquiring rights and assuming obligations, including closing transactions and being an applicant and the defendant in court.
Exclusive rights in respect of goods which are not released for free circulation
The new law now grants the owner of a registered trademark the right not to allow other persons to import goods from third countries into Latvia, even if they are not released for free circulation (that is, it will be possible to raise objections even if the goods crossed the territory of Latvia only in transit). An exception to this right will be if the declarant of the goods proves that the owner of the trademark has no right to prohibit the placing on the market of the goods in their country of destination, for example, the trademark is not protected in the country of destination.
The nature of rights to a trademark
As well as current regulation, the new law states that the right to a trademark confers the same legal status as rights to moveable property within the meaning of the Civil Law. However, the new regulation emphasises explicitly that a person will be able to dispose of, pledge or otherwise include these rights into private circulation within the limits of the regulatory framework and will also be able to direct recovery.
About the Law
The law updates and restructures existing regulation – the Law On Trade Marks and Indications of Geographical Origin, which expired with the entry into force of the new law. Besides, the new law takes over and transposes the updated requirements of the Trade Marks Directive (2015/2436) into national law.