Article 26 October 2012

Government Proposes Housing All IPR Cases in Market Court

The Finnish Government proposes that suits related to intellectual property rights (“IPR”) be in future heard exclusively by the Market Court. Bill 124/2012, submitted to the Parliament on 4 October and currently debated in the Law Committee, contains proposals on new acts on the Market Court and on proceedings before the Market Court as well as amendments to various existing statutes.

At present, decisions taken by the National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland (“NBPR”) concerning patents, utility models, trade marks, designs, trade names and topographies of integrated circuits are appealed to the NBPR Board of Appeal. As regards plant breeder’s rights, the competent authority is the Finnish Food Safety Authority and appeals are lodged with an administrative court. For all these rights, enforcement matters have been centralised, as a rule, in the District Court of Helsinki at first instance. Actions for prohibition under the Unfair Business Practices Act are heard by the Market Court, whereas claims for damages under the said Act and matters related to copyright and neighbouring rights belong to the jurisdiction of general courts.

To streamline this dispersion and to secure necessary expertise, high quality and greater swiftness in judicial proceedings, it is proposed that the Market Court would receive exclusive jurisdiction over all matters relating to IPR, copyright and neighbouring rights included. The Court’s jurisdiction would cover all civil and petitionary matters where legal consequences pertaining to legislation on IPR are claimed or where said legislation is otherwise at issue. This would not include purely contractual disputes where no claim on IPR infringement is made. If the bill becomes law, also claims for an injunction are transferred from district courts to the Market Court. Any other civil matters, for which actions are brought simultaneously and which are based on essentially same grounds, would also be covered by the Court’s jurisdiction.

In addition to civil actions, the Market Court would be the appeal body for all IPR decisions taken by the NBPR. These would include appeals by applicants against refusals of registration, on the one hand, and appeals made by applicants or their opponents against decisions on filed oppositions, on the other. Furthermore, appeals against decisions taken by the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority under the Domain Name Act would in future be referred to the Market Court. If the bill is enacted into law, the NBPR Board of Appeal, stripped of its functions, will be abolished. Criminal cases related to IPR will continue to be heard by general courts and it is proposed that all such matters would be tried in the District Court of Helsinki at first instance.

The acts and amendments contained in bill 124/2012 are destined, if passed by the legislature, to take effect on 1 September 2013.

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