Trademark registration and protection in Lithuania can be obtained under three systems:
- Madrid Protocol with designation to LT or European Community (EM);
Each system provides equal rights in the territory of LT. The date of acquisition of trademark rights is established by the date of application or priority date (if applicable).
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All systems for obtaining trademark protection allow multi-class applications. Unlike CTM system, which allows division of applications and registrations, split applications or division of applications or registrations is not possible for marks registered by national or Madrid Protocol system.
As a result of Lithuania’s accession to the European Community and joining the CTM system, CTM marks filed or registered before May 1 2004 were automatically extended to Lithuania. Due to such extension the quantity of marks valid in Lithuania has increased approximately by 6 times.
For holders of CTMs such automatic extension means:
- From May 1 2004 such marks got full rights in this country and may be used in the grounds for invalidation of national (or international) marks filed (extended to LT) after that date;
- Registration of a CTM cannot be invalidated on the grounds of any circumstances that had existed in Lithuania before the date of accession (e.g. a mark is descriptive or immoral in the Lithuanian language). Neither can earlier national rights be used for invalidation of an identical or confusingly similar CTM. However holders of earlier national rights (acquired before accession) can prevent use of such a CTM in Lithuania, provided the national right was acquired in good faith.
For holders of national registrations such automatic extension means:
- A national or an international (extended to LT) mark filed (extended to LT) before May 1, 2004 cannot be invalidated on the grounds of identity or similarity to a CTM even if the filing date (or where applicable – the priority date) of a CTM is earlier than that of the national mark;
- Marks applied for in Lithuania before that date may become an obstacle for use of the extended CTMs in the territory of Lithuania. Disputes connected with use of extended CTMs are subject to consideration by national court. The court of first instance to consider such cases is Vilnius District court;
- Earlier national (international) marks may be used in the grounds for opposing CTMs filed after November 1, 2003.
Holders of national rights have the right to take advantage of these provisions provided they have obtained their rights in good faith. Marks filed in bad faith are subject to invalidation without any time limits for bringing a court action.