Increasin IP knowledge and Expertise in Finland. Editorial
September 2013 will be historical in Finnish IPR litigation. On the 1st of September the Market Court started acting as a specialized IPR court. The hearing of cases on copyright and industrial property rights, as well as appeals from domain name registrations are centralised in the Market Court. Additionally, the appeals from the decisions of the National Board of Patents and Registration will be handled by the Market Court. Criminal matters were left outside the scope of centralisation.
The goal of the reform is to improve judicial expertise in IP matters and to improve efficiency. The centralisation of IP matters enables the judges of the Market Court to concentrate in developing their knowledge of IP law more than a judge in a general district court could. The amount of judges involved in IP matters also increases. This will help enhance the dialogue between the litigating parties and the court.
A thorough article about the new IP court has been published in the July/August 2013 issue of Managing Intellectual Property. It gives a good overview of the Market Court’s trial procedures in different types of cases.
Both of the supreme courts in Finland, the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, also have a role in IP matters. In matters concerning the registration of industrial property rights the appeal is directed to the Supreme Administrative Court. In civil cases the appeal goes to the Supreme Court. In both cases, one may only appeal an appellate ruling to if the Court grants leave to appeal.
In order to fulfil the new task, ten new judges have been appointed to the Market Court: eight lawyers and two technical experts. The new judges have diverse backgrounds; they come for example from law firms, the Supreme Court, the District Court of Helsinki, as well as the National Board of Patents and Registration. The centralisation also ensures that the Finnish judges are competent to act as judges in the Unified European Patent Court.
The expertise in IPRs will further increase when the long prepared registration system for IPR agents is completed. The proposal for the legislation establishing the system is almost ready to be sent off to the parliament. The registration system will include patent, trademark and design agents. The applicant has to pass a test consisting of two parts: one for general information and the other for chosen area of expertise (e.g. patents, trademarks, designs). In order to be eligible for registration, the applicant also has to have experience working in the chosen field of IPR. The registration will be valid for five years, but it can be renewed if the applicant shows that they have been practising in the field of IPRs.
The legislation will also create a rule establishing privilege between registered IPR agents and their clients. The rule will be identical to the one regulating client-attorney privilege. As the rule makes communications between agents and clients privileged, the agents’ cooperation with attorneys and client companies will become more straight-forward.
The need for systematic education on IPRs in Finland will grow as a result of the requirements of the new registration system. Education that takes into account the different needs of companies, public authorities as well as entrepreneurs in the field of IPRs is a starting point for making better use of IPRs.
IPR University Center