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Starting from April 1, 2021, the Patent Office will take over some of the implementing functions of the Ministry of Justice in the field of copyright and related rights.

These functions are mediating the information concerning orphan works in Estonia, national supervision of the activities of collective management organisations (hereinafter CMOs) and the organisation of the work of the Copyright Committee.

The program of the Ministry of Justice for the period 2020-2023 provides for the establishment of the Patent Office as a modern competence centre of intellectual property rights, the office advises entrepreneurs on intellectual property issues, ensures a fast and effective procedure for registering intellectual property and fast pre-trial resolution of disputes.

As one measure to achieve this, the program extends the Patent Office's competence in the field of copyright. At present, the Patent Office is already engaged in the realisation of the country's economic policies in the field of industrial property. As the various areas of intellectual property are closely interconnected, the underlying principles of these areas, problems (including in the enforcement of rights, awareness raising) and even potential beneficiaries (e.g. businesses) are similar, it is justified to extend the competence of the Patent Office also in the area of copyright and related rights[1]. The objective of transforming the Patent Office into a competence centre for intellectual property is also set in the development plan for the area of governance of the Ministry of Justice for the period 2019-2022.

In particular, the Patent Office will be entrusted with the following tasks in the field of copyright and related rights:

(1) act as a mediator of information on the status of orphan works in Estonia, i.e. as a competent authority within the meaning of Article 3(5) of Directive 2012/28/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council;

Section 274 (1) of the Copyright Act states the competent autority for the mediation of information concerning the status of orphan works in Estonia - as of 1 April 2021, this autohority is the Patent Office. The competent authority has essentially two tasks. Upon receiving the information specified in Section 274 (2) of the Copyright Act from a public memory institution or Estonian Public Broadcasting concerning a work declared to be an orphan, the competent authority will communicate this information to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) database. However, if ownership of the rights of a work or phonogram recognised as orphan works is subsequently confirmed, the competent authority shall transmit this information to the orphan works database maintained by EUIPO in accordance with Section 277 of the Copyright Act.

The competent authority does not make substantive decisions on the orphan of works or phonograms, nor can the competent authority, for example, reject information received from memory institutions. All responsibility for identifying a protected object as an orphan and performing a sufficiently careful search lies with the memory institutions.

Other tasks of the competent authority in the Estonian context are, for example, is coordination the work of memory institutions to develop a common practice of conducting and documenting careful searches, analysis of the timeliness of relevant sources and, where necessary, proposals for supplementing the list, as well as communication with EUIPO on practical issues (e.g. record-based mass loading by memory institutions);

(2) to exercise national supervision over the activities of the CMOs by ensuring compliance with the requirements[2] laid down in Chapter 9 of the Copyright Act.

Chapter 9 of the Copyright Act governs the collective exercise of rights and Section 3 of the Chapter provides for national supervision of the activities of the CMOs. Chapter 9 of the Copyright also lays down requirements for the CMOs and their activities. Among other things, the use and distribution of revenue from the exercise of regulated rights to the rightholders, the terms and conditions for signing a contract with users (including the introduction of reasonable tax rates) and the provision of information from the CMO to both rightholders about the exercise of those rights and to users and the wider public (including the provision of a transparency report, the disclosure of information on a website).

Pursuant to Section 7926 of the Copyright Act, with effect from 01.04.2021, the Patent Office exercises national supervision over compliance with the requirements set out in Sections 1 and 2 of the Chapter. Most of the requirements for which national supervision is carried out derive from Directive 2014/26/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council. The obligation of a member state to ensure the monitoring of compliance with those requirements is derived from Article 36(1) of that Directive. The Patent Office was also entrusted with the tasks of the competent authority provided for in Articles 37 and 38 of the Directive (3), together with the exercise of national supervision[3];

(3) organise the work of the Copyright Committee established under Paragraph 87 of the Copyright Act.

Section 87(1) of the Copyright Act provides for the formation of a Copyright Committee to the Patent Office from 01.04.2021. The Commitee is a conciliation body within the meaning of Section 19 of the Conciliation Act and will carry out the functions listed in points 1 to 5 of Section 87(1) of the Act, and it will, at the request of the parties of the dispute, settle disputes concerning copyright and related rights by conciliation between the parties. The minister responsible for the area appoints the members of the committee for a period of five years. If necessary, independent experts from outside the Commitee will also be involved in the Committee's activities by means of an order from the Director General of the Patent Office.

In view of the implementing nature of the Committee's tasks, the Patent Office is the most suitable authority to perform them. The Patent Office already carries out pre-court settlement of disputes concerning the legal protection of industrial property objects.

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[1] Already the Explanatory Memorandum of the draft Directive 2014/26/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council (Copyright Amendment Act 163 SE) in 2015 states that the Patent Office could be considered as a public supervision body for the CMOs in the future.

[2] These requirements are based on Directive 2014/26/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council.

[3] In other member states, the role of the competent authority referred to in Articles 36 to 38 of the Directive is fulfilled by a single authority, see Collective rights management Directive - publication of collective management organisations and competent authorities.

 

Last modified 30.03.2021