MONDAY, 7 OCTOBER 2013
Centralised IP litigation comes to Finland
Since the beginning of September 2013 the handling of IPR issues has been centralized in Finland. At the beginning of this year, new legislation was ratified, taking the handling of intellectual property issues to the Market Court. Earlier IPR disputes and appeals have been on the “to do list” of District Courts as well as the Board of Appeal of the National Board of Patents and Registration. In addition, IPR-related questions have also been assessed by the Market Court in handling disputes relating to unfair business practices as part of the case law of the Supreme Court of Finland. According to the case law, infringing IPR rights means also dishonest business practices. The variety of legal venues has been significant, and complex to handle.
The Market Court has concentrated traditionally on issues relating to marketing regulation, competition, public procurement as well as unfair business practices and it has experience also, to some extent, in IPR issues. Focusing more on IPR issues is thus a natural addition to the field of issues that the Market Court typically handles. What is special about this situation? Well, Finland is the first of the Nordic countries to centralize intellectual property matters in one court.
What this means in practice is that the Market Court will get a large quantity of new cases. First, the Market Court will now be the court of first instance in civil matters that concern patents, utility models, trade marks, trade names, designs, integrated circuits and plant variety rights -- not to forget copyrights and related rights too. On top of this, appeals against decisions of the National Board of Patents and Registration as well as appeals regarding domain name decisions from the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority (Ficora) will now be a responsibility of the Market court. However, criminal cases will not be heard by the Market Court.
What about appeals to Market Court decisions? The court's decisions in civil IPR matters will now be appealed directly to the Supreme Court and in administrative matters (registrations) to the Supreme Administrative Court. The Court of Appeal will no longer handle IPR appeals (this change being which was strongly criticized). Filing an appeal to the Supreme Court is possible only if permission to appeal is granted and that will happen mainly in cases with precedental value. In practice the Market Court is now, in IPR infringement matters, the only instance handling the case. The said will decrease litigation costs but also increase the importance of litigation experience in the Market Court.
In Finland – at a general level – one could say that the response to the reform has been positive and hopes are high that a new and vibrant IPR court will speed up the resolving of IPR issues as well as make the procedure more efficient. One of the main reasons for centralizing IPR matters to one court was the need to have judges specialized in IPR matters. The centralization creates a sufficient case volume for the judges who already are IPR experts, and the quality of the decisions issued by the new court will certainly be even higher than at present. The future in the field of IPR matters looks very interesting in Finland.
Class 46 thanks Tiina Komppa, (an associate in the Roschier Brands team) for preparing this item for publication.
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