Exclusive jurisdiction of civil courts over IP cases confirmed

In Andros France SNC v Lactalis Nestlé Ultra Frais Marques SA (January 7 2009, published in May 2009), the Paris Court of First Instance has confirmed that it has exclusive jurisdiction over IP cases.
Andros France SNC sued Lactalis Nestlé Ultra Frais Marques SA, a company of the Nestlé group, for using Andros's  trademarks to designate its products.
Although the action was based on unfair competition, Andros filed suit before the Paris Court of First Instance (civil court). In its defence, Lactalis claimed that:
  • the competent court was the Paris Commercial Court, which has jurisdiction over unfair competition cases involving companies; and
  • alternatively, the case should be split between the two courts because some of the claims fell outside the scope of the civil court's jurisdiction.
The Paris Court of First Instance held that even though this was an unfair competition case, the decision on the tort claim could have consequences on the trademark rights of the parties. Therefore, the court concluded that it had exclusive jurisdiction over the trademark issues.
This represents an extension of the classical interpretation of the jurisdiction rules, which usually apply when the case is based only on trademark law. The decision is in line with the amendments to the IP laws, which aim to concentrate IP litigation in the civil courts.
Having solved this first issue, the court also held that the fact that some of the goods had been commercialized within the Paris region was sufficient to extend its jurisdiction over all the goods concerned, even if they had been sold elsewhere.
Richard Milchior, Granrut Avocats, Paris

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