Lithuania - Country Commercial Guide
Protecting Intellectual Property
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Several general principles are important for effective management of intellectual property (IP) rights in the EU and legal counsel is advisable to ensure that IP rights are properly protected.  It is the responsibility of the rights’ holders to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors.  Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys or IP consultants who are experts in EU law.  The U.S. Commercial Service can provide a list of local lawyers upon request.

First, it is important to have an overall strategy to protect IP rights.  Second, IP protections in EU Member States differ from those in the United States.  Third, rights must be registered and enforced in the EU under national laws. 

U.S. trademark and patent registrations will not protect IP rights in the EU.  Registration of patents and trademarks is on a first-in-time, first-in-right basis, so it is recommended that a company apply for trademark and patent protection even before selling its products or services in the EU market.  There is no such thing as an “international copyright” that will automatically protect an author’s writings throughout the entire world.  Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends on the national laws of that country.  However, most countries do offer copyright protection to foreign works under certain conditions, and these conditions have been greatly simplified by international copyright treaties and conventions.

It is vital that companies understand that intellectual property is primarily a private right and that the U.S. government generally cannot enforce rights for private individuals in EU.   While the U.S. Government stands ready to assist by providing advocacy support, there is little it can do if the rights holders have not taken fundamental steps necessary to secure and enforce IP rights in a timely fashion.  Moreover, in many countries, rights holders who delay enforcing their rights on a mistaken belief that the USG can provide a political resolution to a legal problem may find that their rights have been eroded or abrogated due to legal doctrines such as statutes of limitations, laches, estoppel, or unreasonable delay in prosecuting a lawsuit.  In no instance should U.S. Government advice be seen as a substitute for the obligation of a rights holder to promptly pursue its case.

It is always advisable to conduct due diligence on potential partners.  Negotiate from the position of your partner and give your partner clear incentives to honor the contract.  A good partner is an important ally in protecting IP rights.  Consider carefully, however, whether to permit your partner to register your IP rights on your behalf.  Doing so may create a risk that your partner will list itself as the IP owner and fail to transfer the rights should the partnership end.  Projects and sales in the EU require constant attention.  Work with legal counsel familiar with EU laws to create a solid contract that includes non-compete clauses, and confidentiality/non-disclosure provisions.

It is also recommended that companies understand the importance of working together with trade associations and organizations to support efforts to protect IP and stop counterfeiting.  There are a number of these organizations, both EU and U.S.-based.  These include:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce  

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)  

International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA)  

International Trademark Association (INTA)  

International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition  

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)  

Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)  

IP Resources

A wealth of information on protecting IP is freely available to U.S. rights holders.  Some excellent resources for companies regarding intellectual property include the following:

  • For information about patent, trademark, or copyright issues – including enforcement issues in the US and other countries – call the STOP! Hotline: 1-866-999-HALT or register at https://www.stopfakes.gov/.  This site is linked to the USPTO website for registering trademarks and patents (both in the U.S. as well as in foreign countries), the U.S. Customs & Border Protection website to record registered trademarks and copyrighted works (to assist customs in blocking imports of IP-infringing products) and allows you to register for Webinars on protecting IP.  
  • For more information about registering trademarks and patents (both in the U.S. as well as in foreign countries), contact the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at: 1-800-786-9199.
  • For more information about registering for copyright protection in the US, contact the US Copyright Office at: 1-202-707-5959.
  • To access Lithuania’s ICS, which includes information on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statement website.