Non-traditional trademarks in Latvia
Very basics of trademarks in Latvia
When people thinking about trademarks most often they think about word trademarks such as Coca-Cola, Google, Facebook or graphical such us McDonald’s yellow letter M or Starbucks siren from Greek mythology. However nowadays meaning of trademark is expanded till colour trademark, 3D trademarks, moving images, holograms or even sound, scent, taste and texture trademarks.
The common name of trademarks which are not traditional is non-traditional trademarks or nonconventional trademarks. Before focusing on non-traditional trademarks – what are traditional trademarks?
International Trademark Association (INTA) tells that traditional trademarks are word, logo, or a combination of both. The word or words may be invented or may appear in dictionaries. A mark may also include letters, numerals, or combinations of both. A logo may be an abstract design, stylization or simple reproduction of everyday objects or images.
Regarding Community trade mark Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) says that Community trade mark may consist of any sign capable of being represented graphically, particularly words, including personal names, designs, letters, numerals, the shape of goods and their packaging, provided that such signs are capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings. Therefore, Article 4 CTMR sets forth two requirements: the sign must be capable of (a) being represented graphically and (b) distinguishing the goods and services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.
Latvian Trademark Law says that: a trade mark may consist of any sign capable of being represented graphically, and which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings. In particular, trademarks may be:
1) words - consisting of letters, words, also names, surnames, numerals;
2) graphic - pictures, drawings, graphic symbols, shades of colours, combinations of colours;
3) three-dimensional - three-dimensional shapes, the shapes of goods or of their packaging;
4) a combination - consisting of a combination of the aforementioned elements (labels and the like); and
5) specific types or special (sound or light signals and the like).
According to mentioned Article in Latvian Trademark Law it is possible to draw few interesting conclusions that is possible to register as a trademark in Latvia:
A) shades of colours and combination of colours as a graphic trademark;
B) three-dimensional shapes, shapes of goods and packaging as a trademark in Latvia;
C) anything as long as it is graphically portrayed.
A) Shades of colours and combination of colours in trademarks
Registration as a Community trademark colour or combination of colours is nothing new anymore.
Filling No. 000031336, owned by Kraft Foods Schweiz Holding GmbH
Filling No. 006866131, owned by Inter Product B.V.
Despite of that Latvian Trademark Law allows to register shades of colours or combination of colours as trademarks, there is no any registered such type trademark, but there are few colour trademarks which are not allowed to register in Latvia.
Application No. M-95-903, owned by FLUKE CORPORATION (Washington corp.)
Application No. M-02-686, owned by DEUTSCHE TELEKOM AG.
The same – decision refuse to register colour or colours combination happening with international trademarks which are registered in Madrid system.
However there are also samples when colour trademark designation to Latvia was successful.
Reg. No. 833969, owned by SHELL INTERNATIONAL PETROLEUM COMPANY LIMITED
B) Three-dimensional shapes, shapes of goods and packaging in trademarks
If there was some differences between Community Trademarks, International trademarks and Latvian trademarks, regarding colour trademarks, there is no any differences.
Latvian Patent office has registered many three-dimensional trademarks.
Reg. No. M 31 503, owned by THE COCA-COLA COMPANY
Reg. No. M 14 375, owned by CHANEL SARL
C) Anything as long as it is graphically portrayed
As sound mark is one of non-visible trademarks the main problem is – how to portrayed sound trademark.
One of the ways how to portrayed sound is MP3 format.
Application No. 005170113, owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Lion Corporation
Descprition: The sound mark is a sound of a lion roar having a duration of approximately 2.5 seconds. It is composed of two successive roars (0 to around 1.4s and 1.4 to 2.6), the second one having a slightly lower amplitude. The sound is non-harmonic, has fast (>15Hz) non-periodic amplitude envelope modulation (perception of sound roughness) and has dominant frequency content in the low and low-medium range (approximate -6dB range: 40 to 400 Hz for both roars with a peak at 170 Hz for the first one and a peak at 130 Hz for the second one). The perceived dominant frequency range (related to the spectral controid) of the first roar increases until around 0.35s and decreases afterwards. In the second roar, it increases until around 1.7s, decreases until around 2.2s, increases again until around 2.3s and decreases afterwards.
In Latvian Patent Office is registerded only one sound mark:
Reg. No. M 42 921, owned by INTEL CORPORATION (Delaware corp.)
A hologram trademark is a non-conventional trademark where a hologram is used to perform the trademark function of uniquely identifying the commercial origin of products or services.
In Latvia is registered two hologram trademarks:
Reg. No. M 41 778, owned by VETA, SIA
Reg. No. M 42 822, owned by SMITHKLINE BEECHAM LIMITED
As special trademarks Latvian Patent Office has regitered two trademarks:
Reg. No. M 17 846, owned by NEWMAN, Sociėtė anonyme
Description: mark is the application that is located on the rear of garment pockets, as shown.
Reg. No. M 44 517, owned by F.ENGEL PRODUKTIONSSELSKAB A/S & CO.K/S
Description: sign is ribbon is sewn at an angle over the pocket or pockets imitation upper right corner, as shown.
Despite of that Latvian Trade Mark Law allows to register any kind of trademark which are graphically portrayed, that doesnt mean that Latvian Patent Office allows to register any kind of trademark.
The main example is colour trademark – even if it is common practice to register such trademarks, Latvian Patent Office do not reigster such trademarks. Unfortunatelly there is no case law, because noone has disputed Latvian Patent Office decisions.
As well there is no information regarding other nontraditional trademarks such us smell, taste, moving images ect.
Despite of poor case law in Latvian Patent Office regarding nontraditional trademarks, we have to keep in mind – he who doesn’t risk never gets to drink champagne.
 Nontraditional trademarks. http://www.inta.org/TrademarkBasics/FactSheets/Pages/NontraditionalTrademarksFactSheet.aspx
Gencs Valters Law Firm is member of: ECTA (EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES TRADEMARK ASSOCIATION), INTA (INTERNATIONAL TRADE MARK ASSOCIATION), ITMA (INSTITUTE OF TRADE MARK ATTORNEYS), EPI (EUROPEAN PATENT INSTITUTE). For the full list click here.