On 1 July 2020 an important legislation in the field of IP entered into force in Poland. After years of discussion, exchange of ideas and plans, IP Courts were established. It was connected with some important amendments in the civil procedure and Industrial Property Law.
The system of IP Courts consist of separate specialized units of the Polish common courts. There have been appointed five regional District Courts (Sąd Okręgowy) that shall hear IP matters in the first instance. se Courts are located in Gdańsk, Katowice, Lublin, Poznań and Warszawa. Additionally, the Court of Warszawa will have exclusive jurisdiction in intellectual property matters concerning computer programs, inventions, utility models, topographies of integrated circuits, plant varieties and technical secrets of the enterprise. As second instance/courts of appeal there were appointed Court of Appeal (Sąd Apelacyjny) in Warsaw and Poznań.
According to the new law “intellectual property matters” cover inter alia matters concerning the protection of copyrights and related rights, industrial property rights - patents, utility models, designs, trademarks, geographical indications, topographies of integrates circuits, as well as combating unfair competition and protection of personal rights related to scientific or inventive activity.
Due to the specific nature of intellectual property matters, the legislator has introduced mandatory representation of the parties by a professional representative in all cases where the value of the dispute exceeds 20 000 PLN (approximately 4 800 Euro). However, in non-complex matters, the court, upon a party's request, may exempt a party from compulsory legal representation. The purpose of the compulsory legal representation, which is as a general rule applicable in these proceedings, is to ensure that all claims and evidence materials are properly indicated. It should also reduce the length of the proceedings.
As to procedural changes, probably the most significant is the competence given to the Courts to cancel or revoke a trademark registration or cancel a design registration. So far the only authority competent to register, cancel or revoke trademarks and designs was the Polish Patent Office. Now, in a trademark or design infringement proceedings a counterclaim connected with a request for cancellation or revocation of a trademark registration or cancellation of a design registration is possible. And the Court is vested with competence to cancel or revoke the trademark or cancel a design under such circumstances, provided that a cancellation or revocation proceedings have not been earlier initiated before the Polish Patent Office.
The new law has also regulated certain measures which should be effective in infringement proceedings; namely a request for preserving evidence, a request for disclosing or issuing evidence and a request for ordering information. These legal measures should be helpful in obtaining information and evidence materials relating to an infringement from the infringer or even other party, of course under the conditions prescribed by the law.
The IP Courts have been established in response to the growing needs and expectations of the market and legal practitioners, who welcomed their introduction. In the forthcoming weeks and months we shall have first case law as well as experiences and remarks of this new system.
Originally published 14 July, 2020
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