Legal Alert – The Finnish Government Proposes to Centralize Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Related Legal Proceedings to the Market Court
According to a Government Bill (HE 124/2012 vp) that has been given to the Parliament on 4 October 2012, industrial property right as well as copyright matters will be dealt with by the Market Court as of September 2013.
Currently, issues related to copyrights, patents, utility models, designs, trademarks, trade names, plant breeder’s rights and employee inventions are processed by various bodies. The aim of the reform is to seek synergy benefits with regard to the expertise of the Market Court, enhance efficiency and speed up the proceedings. The Market Court is a special court currently dealing with cases related to unfair business practices Act, competition law and public procurement. Moreover, centralization allows the parties to claim for different types of legal remedies under the same proceedings which is not always the case in the current system.
According to the Government Bill, the Market Court would have jurisdiction over the appeals of the decisions of the registration authorities, all dispute and application issues related to copyright and industrial property rights and the related precautionary measures. In addition to the copyright and industrial property right matters, the reform covers domain name appeals of the decisions of the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority (Ficora). However, the Market Court would not handle IPR related criminal proceedings over which the District Court of Helsinki would have exclusive jurisdiction, except for the copyright cases which are handled by all District Courts.
As the Market Court would take over most of its functions, the Board of Appeal of the National Board of Patents and Registration would be disbanded approximately six months after the entering into force of the reforms.
The reform also relates to the composition of the Court and to the special qualification requirements of the judges. With regard to patent issues which require technical expertise, the reform introduces Market Court Engineers to the composition alongside the legally trained members. Accordingly, the functions of the court-appointed technical experts would no longer be needed.
The appeals of the decisions of the Market Court would be dealt with by the Supreme Administrative Court with regard to registration authority decisions and by the Supreme Court with regard to the disputes and application issues. Both routes of appeal require a leave to appeal from the respective Court.
The matters that have been commenced in the District Courts before the reform would be dealt with according to the current regulations. However, some matters pending at the Board of Appeal of the National Board of Patents and Registration would be transferred to the Market Court.
The Government Bill was introduced in the beginning of October 2012 and is currently under discussion at the Finnish Parliament. As the reform is connected to the state budget proposal for 2013, prompt handling to the Bill during Autumn 2012 can be expected.