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Revolution before us – On specialised courts for intellectual property, part 1

This is already certain – as of 1 July 2020, new regulations will come into force, based on which, within the framework of separate departments in four (most probably, although this number may still increase) district courts and two courts of appeal in Poland, specialized courts for intellectual property will be created.

New units in the courts

The purpose of the amendment is to create specialised departments within the Polish justice system, where judges prepared in terms of their merits to deal with cases where knowledge of technologies and the functioning of creative industries, including from the economic point of view, is necessary to issue a correct decision. The technical skills have been appreciated to such an extent that as of July, cases concerning computer programs, inventions, utility models, the topography of integrated circuits, plant varieties and secrets of a technical enterprise will be dealt with exclusively by the District Court in Warsaw, where such cases will be submitted from all over Poland.

We still do not know for sure which district courts we should refer the remaining intellectual property protection cases to from July. The local jurisdiction of the courts will be determined in a regulation of the Minister of Justice, whose draft is not yet known. At this moment, the Council of Ministers envisages the creation of four departments of district courts for intellectual property: in Lublin, Gdańsk, Poznań and Warsaw and two departments of courts of appeal: in Poznań and Warsaw. According to information obtained from the Ministry of Justice, the local jurisdiction of courts of appeal will most probably be designated along the meridian dividing Poland into the western and eastern parts of the country.

The amendment also provides for the liquidation of the existing form of the court acting as Division XXII of the District Court in Warsaw. Cases of this kind will be submitted from July not only to Warsaw but to all intellectual property departments in Poland, according to local jurisdiction.

Qualifications of the judges

The plans of the Ministry of Justice are ambitious: in cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organisation, a plan will be developed to improve the qualifications of judges adjudicating in IP-related cases, covering three training blocks: intellectual property law, new technologies and economics, in particular economic phenomena typical for the technology and creative industries market. Judges won’t be able to expand their knowledge immediately, it takes time. However, the information that the judges in the new departments will be primarily voluntary judges from the civil and commercial departments of the district courts, whose interests or scientific careers are focused on intellectual property law, is already welcome. This should have a very positive impact on the quality of judgments.

Mandatory procedural representation

A key change from the perspective of potential clients of law firms is the introduction of mandatory legal representation of a party before a court in a case for the protection of intellectual property rights with a value in dispute exceeding PLN 20,000. At the request of a party, the court may relieve that party from the obligation to have the assistance of an advocate, legal adviser or patent attorney if it considers that the case is not so complex as to make it difficult for the party to conduct the proceedings on its own. Currently, the so-called attorney-at-law coercion only applies in proceedings before the Supreme Court and group proceedings.

The adopted changes have not only an organisational dimension. They also introduce, among other things, new litigation possibilities in terms of taking evidence, which should help the entitled persons to enforce the information necessary to claim protection and financial claims against the infringers in the appropriate amount – but about this in the next entry on IP BLOG.

#amendment #litigation representation #new rules

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