End of Gleissner's trademark era: Latvian trademark environment returns to normality
Recently the World Trademark Review (WTR) in cooperation with PĒTERSONA PATENTS – AAA LAW published an article on transformation by the activities of millionaire serial filer Michael Gleissner, whose filings have stopped and normality is returning. The trademark attorneys Gatis Meržvinskis, Gunta Zariņa and Toms Lintiņš joined forces and formed up a team in order to combat Gleissner’s activities and send frequent reports to the WTR from our law firm’s perspective.
The WTR reveals that active opposition proceedings in Latvia have fallen significantly in 2021 and that up to 900 of Gleissner’s trademark registrations remain available for auction. As the WTR reported previously, two entities owned by Gleissner – Grigorius Holdings SIA and Fashion One Television SIA –swamped the Latvian Patent Office with more than 1,500 applications. In particular, in 2018, those two entities filed 40% of all trademark applications in Latvia across the entire year, which resulted in many opposition proceedings.
In 2020 the managing partner Gatis Meržvinskis explained that he had filed dozens of oppositions against Gleissner-related applications, adding:
“This activity has transformed the trademark environment in Latvia. We are certainly not only seeing these oppositions, but also the earlier trademark proprietors are telling us that Gleissner is filing revocation actions against them, and these trademark owners are spending a lot of money on this hell.”
Today, the impact of Gleissner in Latvia appears to fading. The WTR adds that last December when a Latvian court ordered trademarks owned by Grigorius Holdings SIA to be placed “under prohibition of alienation” – meaning over 900 of his registrations would go up for auction in an effort to recover outstanding legal costs. The first phase of the auction process occurred earlier this year, with all 903 active trademarks owned by Grigorius Holdings SIA available for auction, with starting bids between €300 and €400 (a full list of the available trademarks available was compiled by WTR into a searchable document).
PĒTERSONA PATENTS – AAA LAW emphasizes that auctions are still available for any brand owners that may be interested in securing ownership of Gleissner’s Latvia trademark registrations – auctions by a sworn baillif can be organized for trademarks on an individual basis.
The trademark attorney Toms Lintiņš further explains the auction process:
“So, for those potential bidders that are interested in only one trademark, it is now possible to speed the process up a bit as it is not necessary to wait for interest in several trademarks to accumulate before we contact the bailiff. We can do it straight away and the auction will be announced in a relatively short time. The auction is conducted online and the process is straight-forward – participants place bids and the highest bidder obtains the trademark. Bailiff determines the bidding step, and from what we see in Gleissner trademark auction cases, the standard step is 10% of the starting value. [In fact], in a broader sense, it is a good alternative for acquiring trademark rights in Latvia, and in some scenarios can be beneficial to the acquirer.”
Additionally, auctions last for 20 days, and fees include a participation fee (€5) and an auction security fee (approximately 10% of the trademark valuation). Further, foreign brand owners would need to have a local representative, with legal formalities (such as a notarised power of attorney and, if necessary, apostille) properly observed for a legal representative to be able to participate in the auction on behalf of a client.
Since the auction process has put most of Gleissner’s trademarks there is “no indication” that the millionaire is still operating in the country. Moreover, there have been no new court decisions related to Gleissner since at least March 2021.
In this regard Toms Lintiņš adds:
“What can be said for sure is that the number of active opposition proceedings before Latvia’s Industrial Property Board of Appeal has fallen significantly since the end of last year,” he adds. “Thus, more or less, the Latvian trademark environment has returned to normal.”
The WTR suggests that the activity of Gleissner may have ceased permanently due to persistent legal failures and could be slowed down due to the pandemic.