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New centralized IP court in Finland

New centralized IP court in Finland

The handling of intellectual property (IP) matters in Finland will be centralized to the Market Court. The Market Court is an already existing special court dealing with cases related to marketing regulation, unfair business practices, competition and public procurement. From September 1st, 2013 all IP related disputes, invalidation cases and related preliminary injunction applications will also be handled at the Market Court.  In addition, appeals currently handled by the Helsinki District Court and by the Board of Appeal of the National Board of Patents and Registration, NBPR, will be decided by the Market Court.

The Market Court will be the first instance to hear all civil matters concerning IP rights including, i.a., patents, utility models, trademarks, trade names, designs and copyrights. In addition, the Market Court will have subject-matter jurisdiction over appeals concerning administrative decisions of the NBPR on industrial property rights. Also appeals concerning domain name decisions by the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority, FICORA, will be handled in the future at the Market Court.  All criminal proceedings will remain at the District Courts where the District Court of Helsinki will have the exclusive jurisdiction over criminal proceedings on industrial property rights, and all District Courts will handle criminal cases related to copyright matters.

The composition of the Market Court varies depending on the matter. In most significant cases there will be one or more engineers and other expert members in addition to the Market Court Judges. All judges will be specialists in IP rights and other expert members of the IP court in their respective fields.

Decisions of the Market Court may be appealed directly to the Supreme Court, and regarding administrative registration matters, to the Supreme Administrative Court. Both routes of appeal require a leave to appeal. The highest courts quite seldom grant a leave to appeal and thus, in practice, there might be one appellate level less in these matters. Also the time to appeal is shorter: a request for a leave to appeal has to be filed mainly within 30 days from the decision of the Market Court (currently 60 days).

The Market Court will take on only new IP cases which are filed beginning September 1st, 2013. In administrative IP registration matters there is a transition period: proceedings in trademark registration matters have become available from January 1st, 2013, and in other IP registration matters will be available starting May 1st, 2013.

The IP court reform will, in best case, influence greatly to the efficiency and speed of resolving IP disputes. This reform will make Finland the first Nordic country to have a court specialized in IP matters.

Markus Myhrberg

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