The Internet is not only one of the most effective and pervasive methods of communication, but also one of the most problematic areas regarding IP rights violation. Legislation such as France's controversial 'HADOPI' law has been introduced in an attempt to regulate and control the Internet and to prosecute breaches of copyright and related rights. Protecting IP rights is highly complex and requires efforts on an enormous scale from governments and private stakeholders alike.
For Mexico, a grasp of existing and emerging information technologies is vital to improve competitiveness and to develop as an IP-friendly jurisdiction. However, changes are needed in attitudes to all aspects of online protection. The government is taking steps to prevent unlawful activities online and to slow the epidemic spread of piracy.
In this context, amendments have been made to the Federal Law on Contentious Administrative Proceedings and the Internal Law of the Federal Court of Tax and Administrative Affairs in order to introduce a proceeding known as the 'online trial'.
The new form of proceeding is intended to ensure prompt and efficient resolution of tax and administrative disputes, including those involving IP matters.
Launched on a limited basis in early August 2011, it aims to reduce administration costs, simplify administrative processes, shorten the overall timeframe for trials, and ultimately reduce the backlog of cases. It integrates online communication into the trial process, from the opening of proceedings to the issuance of the decision.
Many practitioners have noted technical drawbacks: among other things, the broadband in Mexico is patchy and unreliable. However, others are optimistic.
Although it was created little more than two years ago, the IP Bench is working well and is proof of the potential for successful innovation in this area of the Mexican court system. However, litigators in IP matters and parties on both sides of contentious IP issues must be aware of the possible impact of this change.
As shown by the need for a specialist IP division, disputes in this area may be highly dependent on a number of factors, including the presentation of certain forms of evidence and the key role of experts. It remains to be seen whether the new form of trial will be regarded as appropriate to the issues that typically arise in IP cases.
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