After a rather lengthy process of reforming its intellectual property regime,
Lithuania has eventually created a modern system that protects private
intellectual property rights. Since 31 May 2001 Lithuania became a member of
the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Lithuanian intellectual property
legislation was harmonised with the requirements of the Agreements on Trade
Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreements).
Lithuania joined the Stockholm Convention establishing the World Intellectual
Property Organisation (WIPO) and became a member of WIPO on 30 April 1992.
The Republic of Lithuania is a party to the following international agreements:
The Republic of Lithuania entered into an agreement with the European Patent
Organisation on Cooperation in the Area of Patents and became an extension
state for the validation of European patents. This agreement is an intermediary
step towards membership in the Munich European Patent Convention on the Grant
of European Patents of 1973. If the provisions of an international agreement to
which Lithuania is a party differ from those in the Lithuanian legislation,
then the provisions of the international agreement will be controlling.
Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (22 December 1994);
Geneva Trademark Law Treaty (18 November 1997);
Washington Patent Cooperation Treaty (5 July 1994);
Madrid Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning Trademark
Registration (15 November 1997);
Nice Agreement Concerning International Classification of Goods and Services
(22 January 1997);
Bern Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (14 December
Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of
Microorganisms (18 November 1997);
Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and
Broadcasting Organisations (22 December 1998);
Geneva Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against
Unauthorised Duplication of Their Phonograms (13 April 1999); and
World Intellectual Property Organisation Copyright Treaty (will come into force
in Lithuania when it becomes effective itself).
The 18 July 2000 Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania;
The 18 January 1994 Law No. I-372 of the Republic of Lithuania "On Patents";
The 4 July 1995 Law No. I-1006 of the Republic of Lithuania "On Industrial
The 16 June 1998 Law No. VIII-721 of the Republic of Lithuania "On the Legal
Protection of the Topographies of Semiconductor Products";
The 18 May 1999 Law No. VIII-1185 of the Republic of Lithuania "On Copyright
and Neighbouring Rights";
The 1 July 1999 Law No. VIII-1286 of the Republic of Lithuania "On Firm Names";
The 10 October 2000 Law No. VIII-1981 of the Republic of Lithuania "On
The 21 December 2000 Law No. IX-117 of the Republic of Lithuania "On Protection
of Intellectual Property Importing and Exporting Goods";
The 15 November 2001 Law No. IX-602 of the Republic of Lithuania "On Seed
The 22 November 2001 Law No. IX-618 of the Republic of Lithuania "On Plant
The State Patent Bureau of the Republic of Lithuania (further - "the State
Patent Bureau") is a governmental institution that registers intellectual
property rights in patents, industrial designs, firm names, trademarks, service
marks, and topographies of semiconductor products.
The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania is responsible for
enforcement of copyright legislation.
The National Group of AIPPI (Association for the Protection of Intellectual
Property) is a national group that acts to improve and promote the protection
of intellectual property in general.
The Association of Patent Attorneys of the Republic of Lithuania promotes the
protection of intellectual property rights and represents the interests of its
Copyright agency Infobalt promotes the protection of authors' rights with
respect to computer programs and databases.
LATGAA (the Lithuanian Copyright Protection Association) is an association that
represents and protects authors' rights based upon written agreements with the
AGATA (the Neighbouring Right Protection Association) is an association that
represents and protects rights of performers, translators, creators of films
and producers of phonograms based upon written agreements with such persons.
The Lithuanian Council of Copyright and Neighbouring Rights is a public
institution which, as an expert and consultant, investigates the enforcement of
copyright legislation, submits proposals to the Ministry of Culture and acts as
a negotiator in copyright-related negotiations or as a mediator in copyright
Copyright and Neighbouring Rights
Scope of Application
Lithuanian copyright and neighbouring rights legislation is applied to:
Database copyright protection is applied to Lithuanian citizens or individuals
permanently living in Lithuania or legal persons if their headquarters are
located in Lithuania.
authors and subjects of neighbouring rights, who are citizens of Lithuania or
individuals permanently living in Lithuania or legal persons if their
headquarters are located in Lithuania;
authors, irrespective of their citizenship and place of residence, who have
rights to a work published for the first time in Lithuania, including works
published at the same time in Lithuania and abroad (within a 30 day period);
authors of audiovisual works, if the main or permanent residence of the
producer(s) of such works is Lithuania;
authors of architecture works erected in Lithuania;
performers who are citizens of Lithuania or natural persons permanently living
in Lithuania, as well as performers carrying out their work in the territory of
Lithuania or making performances that are a part of a phonogram protected by
Lithuanian legislation or used in a broadcast program or original broadcast
protected by the Law on Copyright and Neighbouring Rights;
broadcasting organisations and cable re-transmitting operators, whose main
residence is in Lithuania or whose programs are broadcast by transmitters
located in Lithuania, as well as broadcasting organisations that broadcast by
satellite, when transmitted signals of an established frequency are sent to the
satellite from the territory of Lithuania.
The Law on Copyright and Neighbouring Rights establishes: copyrights to works
of literature, science and art; rights of performers and phonogram makers,
rights of broadcasting organisations and manufacturers of the first recording
of the audio-visual work (film); special provisions for the legal protection of
databases; implementation, collective administration and protection of
copyrights and neighbouring rights.
The Law on Copyright and Neighbouring Rights was drafted taking into
consideration the directives of the European Union and provisions of the Bern
and Geneva Conventions. It is applicable to authors and subjects of
neighbouring rights who are citizens of Lithuania, or natural persons residing
in Lithuania, or legal persons with offices located in Lithuania. The Law on
Copyright and Neighbouring Rights is also applicable to authors, irrespective
of their citizenship and place of residence, having rights to the works first
published in Lithuania, including works published simultaneously in Lithuania
and abroad (a work is deemed published simultaneously in several countries if
it was published in the territory of Lithuania within 30 days from its first
publication in another country), or authors of architectural works erected in
Lithuania, and certain other entities. Objects of copyright are original works
of literature, science and art which are the result of creative activity
expressed in any objective form.
Copyright exists on original scientific, literary or artistic works that are
the result of creative activity, expressed in any objective form (books,
brochures, diaries, computer programs, speeches, lectures, sermons, written and
verbal scientific works, dramatic and dramatic-musical works, pantomimes,
choreographic works, scenarios, music works, databases, architecture works
Copyright is not applied to: i) ideas, procedures, processes, systems, methods
of action, conceptions, principles, inventions and separate data; ii) legal
acts, official documents of an administrative, judicial or normative nature as
well as their official translations; iii) official State symbols and signs; iv)
officially registered drafts of legal acts; v) ordinary informative reports on
events; vi) works of folk art. Copyright in a work is not related to the
ownership of the material object in which the work is expressed.
Economic copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years after his/her
death or death of the last co-author in case of a joint work. The term of
protection of pseudonymous or anonymous works expires after 70 years from the
moment the work was made available to the public. Protection of collective work
lasts for 70 years from the date when the work was made available to the
public. In cases of the identification of a pseudonymous or anonymous author or
authors of a collective work, the work is protected for a term of 70 years
after their death. Natural or legal persons that make a previously unpublished
work available to the public for the first time, obtain all exclusive economic
rights of authorship for the following 25 years. If an employee creates the
work, the economic copyright is reserved to employer for 5 years (if not agreed
otherwise) and afterwards passes to the employee. In the case of computer
programs, the economic copyright is vested in the employer for unlimited time,
unless the employment contract or other agreement provides otherwise.
In all cases, the term of an economic copyright runs from 1 January of the year
following the date of the author's death or from the date that the work is made
available to the public. Economic copyrights are inheritable.
The protection of an author's moral rights is of unlimited duration. These
rights cannot be inherited or assigned to any person or entity, other than the
According to the Law on Copyright and Neighbouring Rights, protection of
neighbouring rights exists on the performance of works, either direct (live
performance) or recorded in audio or video media, phonogram, the first record
of an audiovisual work (film), radio and television broadcast or a program of a
Neighbouring rights are to be realised with no prejudice to the copyright on
scientific, literary or artistic works. Performers, producers of phonograms,
broadcasting organisations and producers of the first record of an audiovisual
work (film) are granted economic rights that are valid for 50 years after the
date of the first performance, first record or first broadcast of the work. The
term of protection runs from 1 January of the year following the date of the
first performance, first record or first broadcast of the work. Additionally,
performers have moral rights to their work that are of an unlimited duration.
Point of Interest
Recognition of a copyright and its legal protection is not subject to any deposit or registration requirement or any other formality.
Trademarks and Service Marks
In Lithuania, a trademark (further - "the mark") is legally protected after it
is registered with the State Patent Bureau. The mark is also legally protected
if it is considered to be as well-known in the Republic of Lithuania.
Any sign the purpose of which is to distinguish the goods or services of one
person from those of another person and which can be represented graphically is
considered a sign capable of being registered as a mark.
A sign will not be considered capable of constituting a mark in any of the
The Law on Copyright and Neighbouring Rights also provides for other cases when
the mark will be recognised as invalid, e.g. the mark is identical to an
already registered mark or to the mark for registration of which the
application to the State Patent Bureau was previously submitted; or the mark is
misleadingly resembling other mark already registered or the application for
such mark was previously provided to the State Patent Bureau; etc.
it has no distinctive character;
it has become a generic name;
it is designated exclusively, for the good or service, its kind or type, its
quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, place of origin, time or means of
production or other characteristics of the good or service;
it may mislead the public;
it is contrary to standards of decency or public order, including societal
ethics or humanitarian principles;
it is only the form which is determined by the type of the goods, or the form
which is necessary to achieve technical results, or the form which determines
the value of the good;
it is composed of the tradition of an official name, coat of arms, flag of the
State of the Republic of Lithuania or other official or other state heraldic
objects prescribed by the law that are used without the permission of the
it is the symbol of great value, particularly a religious symbol;
it is composed of the marks that are used without the permission of competent
institutions authorised by a foreign state or international organisation;
it is composed of a geographical reference or has a geographical reference
prescribed by law;
other cases prescribed by law.
Foreign legal and natural persons must use a patent attorney licensed in
Lithuania to file applications to register a trademark with the State Patent
Bureau. Once the registration has been entered in the Register of Trademarks
and Service Marks, it shall be published in the Official Bulletin of the State
Patent Bureau. Within three months from the date of publication, any interested
person may, after payment of a fee, file an opposition against the registration
of a mark on the basis that it does not comply with the provisions of the Law
on Trademarks. The initial term of the registration of a mark is 10 years from
the filing date of the application. The registration of a mark may be renewed
for additional terms, not exceeding 10 years in each case. The renewal is
subject to the following conditions:
Point of Interest
a request for renewal must be made within the last year of the term of the
a fee must be the paid; and
a request for renewal may be filed up to six months after the end of the term
of registration, subject to the payment of a late fee equal to 50% of the
The State Patent Bureau undertakes no research concerning a mark's novelty. A mark is refused registration only upon the successful challenge of the registration filed by an interested person. There are no requirements of prior use before a mark is registered.
Well-Known and Reputation Having Trademarks
The Law on Trademarks provides for legal protection of the "well-known" marks
in the Republic of Lithuania. Furthermore, the same law states that a sign will
not be registered by the State Patent Bureau if it is identical or confusingly
similar to a "well-known" mark in Lithuania. A "well-known" mark protects goods
and services of the same and similar classes because it is given legal
protection without registration.
The mark may be considered as "well-known" if its use and advertising results
show that it is well-known in a certain layer of society.
The Law on Trademarks grants to the owner of a mark which is considered to be
"well-known" in Lithuania the right to prevent third parties from using in
commerce, without the owner's authorisation, any sign that constitutes a
reproduction, imitation or translation of the mark and which may be misleading.
The Law on Trademarks distinguishes the marks "having reputation" from
"well-known" marks and also provides for legal protection of the marks "having
reputation " in Lithuania. A mark which is considered to "have reputation" in
Lithuania is given the broadest legal protection, because it protects goods and
services not only of the similar classes (like "well-known" marks), but also
goods and services of all the classes, however "reputation having" marks
(unlike "well-known" marks) are given legal protection only after registration.
There are three ways to obtain patent protection in Lithuania:
The right to a patent belongs to the inventor, its successor in title or an
employer in case of a service invention. If the invention is created in an
enterprise, institution or organisation carrying out scientific research,
planning, construction or other contracts for works of a creative nature, and
the customer covers the cost of the work, the patent rights to the invention
are established by that contract. If the employer renounces its right to a
patent or within four months does not inform the employee of its intention to
make use of that right, the right to the patent is transferred to the employee.
Foreign applicants may file their applications only through a patent attorney
registered in Lithuania. The filing date of a patent application is the date on
which the State Patent Bureau accepts the documents required for patent
registration. The following are not regarded as inventions:
by filing an application directly with the State Patent Bureau;
by filing an international application through the Patent Cooperation Treaty
("the PCT"); and
by extending a European patent into Lithuania through Euro and Euro-PCT
Patents are not granted for the methods of treatment of people and animals,
diagnoses and prevention of disease (except for the equipment and materials
utilized), varieties of plants and plant-based as well as biological (except
microbiological) methods for their protection, and inventions that are deemed
contrary to public interest, decency or the principles of humanity. Where the
object of an invention is a process of production, patent protection may also
be granted with respect to a product produced by such a process.
discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;
schemes, rules and methods of games, intellectual and economic activities,
programs for computers; and
presentations of information.
A patent application is published no sooner than 18 months from its filing
date. Subject to the payment of a fee and subsequent to the filing of a request
for publication, it may be published earlier but not sooner than after 6 months
from the filing date of the application. An applicant must pay a registration
fee within 3 months from the date of publication. After payment of the fee, a
patent is entered into the Patent Register and published in the Official
Bulletin of the State Patent Bureau. A registered patent is valid for a term of
20 years from the filing date. Patents are subject to an annual fee. Annual
payments are required beginning with the third year from the filing date and
are due within the last two months of the current year.
Points of Interest
The laws of Lithuania recognise the concept of "prior use". Under this concept, an individual or a legal person who in good faith used the invention or made effective or serious preparations for such use before the filing date or, in cases where priority is claimed, the priority date of a patent application, has the right to continue such use or to use the invention as envisaged in such preparations without taking into consideration the will of the owner of the patent.
Point of Interest
If after the expiration of a period of 4 years from the date of filing the application, or 3 years from the grant of the patent (whichever is later), the patented invention is not used sufficiently, and those willing to utilise it are refused a license, on the request of any person that proves the ability to utilise the patented invention, the court may grant a non-exclusive compulsory license. The grant of the compulsory license is subject to payment of equitable remuneration to the owner of the patent in an amount to be fixed by the court.
After taking into consideration the State or public interests, the Government of the Republic of Lithuania may adopt a decree, without agreement of the owner of a patent, to allow an enterprise or a person to use a patented invention subject to payment of equitable remuneration to the patent owner.
Lawsuits regarding protection of the rights of the patent owner are heard in Vilnius District Court. Unlike the regulations pertaining to trademarks and industrial design, it is not possible to file an opposition to the registration of a patent.
In order to receive protection, an industrial design must be new, must have
individual characteristics and may not be contradict the principles of public
morality. An industrial design is considered new if, until the filing date of
an application or the priority date, the design is not identical to another
product design disclosed to the public and familiar in Lithuania. An industrial
design is publicly accessible or known if it has been published in the Official
Bulletin of the State Patent Bureau, exhibited at an exhibition, or marketed or
demonstrated to the public in another way. The novelty of an industrial design
is not disturbed by the dissemination of information about the design if this
information has been disseminated within a period of six months prior to the
filing date of an application or the priority date, and if this information has
been disseminated (i) by the author himself or his/her successor in title, who
had the right to acquire the right to an industrial design or (ii) by another
person wishing to harm the author or his/her successor.
An industrial design possesses individual characteristics if an informed user,
on the basis of general appearance, is able to differentiate one industrial
design from another (i) as introduced to the Lithuanian market or (ii) as
registered with the State Patent Bureau and published in its Official Bulletin
while the protection of the design is still valid.
Applications for industrial design patents are filed by foreign legal and
natural persons with the State Patent Bureau through a patent attorney
registered in Lithuania. One application may include as many as 10 examples of
Industrial design protection is valid for 5 years from the date of an
application filing. The term of validity of an industrial design may be
extended up to 4 successive 5-year periods (i.e. a total of 25 years from the
date of filing the application).
Notice of the inclusion of an industrial design into the Industrial Design
Register of the Republic of Lithuania is published in the Official Bulletin of
the State Patent Bureau. Interested persons who have paid a fee, on the basis
of the arguments provided in the Law on Industrial Design may file an
opposition to the registration of an industrial design within 3 months from the
date of publication.
It should be noted that the products or their parts that are imported to
Lithuania and pursuant to the Lithuanian laws are considered to infringe the
industrial design are subject to the measures of customs supervision prescribed
by the laws.
Point of Interest
Natural and legal persons who were legally using or were making effective or undertook serious preparations for the use of an industrial design before the filing date of an industrial design application or the priority date may continue such use or use the industrial design as envisaged in such preparations irrespective of the will of the owner of the industrial design. The right of prior use may be transferred together with the enterprise or activities, or with that part of the enterprise or activities in which the use of an industrial design or preparations for such use have been made.
The State Patent Bureau performs a formal examination of an industrial design application, i.e. experts examine only whether all the necessary documents have been provided and whether registration fees have been paid.
The Law on Firm Names defines a firm as any type of enterprise, public
enterprise, credit union or any other credit enterprise. All such firms and
their affiliates that are established according to the Lithuanian laws must
register their firm name under the prescribed procedure, except when a firm
name is comprised only of words or abbreviations, the name defines the type of
firm or the name of the firm consists of the surname(s) of its founder(s), if
such a composition of names for firms has been permitted by legal acts.
Firm names are registered with the Register of Firm Names in the State Patent
Bureau. The Law on Firm Names establishes obligatory requirements for the
registration of a firm name and cases when firm names will not be registered
(including when the name is identical to another name that is already
registered or filed for registration; is misleadingly similar to a name already
registered or filed for registration; another person's surname or pseudonym has
been used in the firm name without permission; the firm name may mislead the
public as to the firm's location (address), type of activity or its identity;
the name is similar to a foreign firm name already widely known to the
Lithuanian population; the name violates a trademark or service mark etc.).
Upon registration, a firm acquires the exclusive right to its firm name. Thus,
no one else, except the firm itself, may use an identical or misleadingly
similar firm name. It is not a violation of this exclusive right if, through
written permission, a firm allows its name or a part of its name to be used by
A firm name is the industrial property of that firm and is inseparable from the
firm. The exclusive right to the firm name may be inherited, pledged, sold or
otherwise transferred only jointly with the firm itself.
According to the Civil Code, when the newly established Register of Legal
Persons starts its activities, the functions of the Register of Firm Names will
be transferred to the Register of Legal Persons.
It should also be noted that the Civil Code introduces the new definition "name
of legal person" and at the same time provides that protection of names of all
legal persons (not only of those that were described as "firms" under Law on
Firm Names, but also of political parties, public movements etc.). According to
the Civil Code, a legal person will acquire the exclusive right to its firm
name not after its registration (like it is under the Law on Firm Names), but
upon submitting the application to the Register of Legal Persons with request
to register a legal person.
Point of Interest
After a firm loses the exclusive right to its firm name, other firm may choose the same or similar firm name only after one year from the day when the exclusive right ceased its validity.
Know-How and Trade Secrets
Information is recognised to be know-how or trade secret, if it has a real or
potential commercial (economic) value for the reason that it is unknown to any
third party and it is not in the public domain due to the reasonable efforts of
the owner or other authorised person to keep it in secret. Know-how embraces
technological, business, organisational and financial information, formulas and
procedures and includes trade secrets. Know-how and trade secrets are
confidential information or information not in the public domain that provides
a person with an advantage over its competitors.
Information is recognised as professional secret if a person of certain
profession (attorney, medical service employee, auditor etc.) is obliged to
keep it in secret according to the laws or agreement.
Know-how and trade secrets are not subject to registration, however, know-how
may be patentable if it concerns a technical solution.
At present, Lithuania has no specific legislation on know-how or trade secrets.
However, the Civil Code provides protection of know-how, trade and professional
secrets based on common grounds. Trade secrets and know-how may also be
protected through the application of the Law on Patents, the Law on Competition
and certain other specific laws that include clauses concerning the protection
of know-how and trade secrets. Many companies undertake measures for the
internal protection of know-how and trade secrets by specifically labelling
information as such (e.g. preparing an index of trade secrets or marking
relevant information as confidential).
No special law governs licensing agreements. Therefore, the general rules in
the Civil Code and specific clauses of other laws protecting intellectual
property rights are applicable.
Under the Lithuanian law licensing agreements must be concluded in written
Licensing agreements relating to patents, industrial design, trademarks and
topographies of semiconductor products must be registered with the State Patent
Bureau. By law, these licensing agreements become effective against third
persons only upon registration with the State Patent Bureau. A plant variety
license agreement comes into effect only upon its registration the Centre for
State Research of Plant Varieties. All other types of licensing agreements are
automatically effective upon execution by the parties and are free of
In order to register licensing agreements relating to patents, industrial
design, trademarks and topographies of semiconductor products, the following
data must be presented to the State Patent Bureau:
Article 36 of the Law on Copyright and Neighbouring Rights provides that
licensing agreements concerning copyright and neighbouring rights must contain
the following conditions:
detailed information about the thing to be licensed;
the validity period of the license; and
the type of license.
If the duration of a licence is not prescribed in the licensing agreement, any
party can terminate the agreement by informing the other party of the
termination at least one year in advance.
the name of the work;
the description of the rights transferred by the author (methods of use of
work) and the type of the licence (exclusive or non-exclusive);
the territory in which the licence is valid;
the duration of the licence;
the amount of remuneration, term and order of payment;
the description of dispute resolution procedures and liability of the parties;
other conditions that the parties consider substantial.
It should be noted that the Civil Code regulates franchise agreements.
Franchise agreements will be registered with Register of Legal Persons after
Point of Interest
When registering a licensing agreement with the State Patent Bureau, extracts containing the required data may be presented instead of the entire agreement.