Further specialisation of Barcelona Commercial Courts in IP matters

Spain
On November 23 2011 the Spanish Judicial Power Council (CGPJ) agreed that the 10 Commercial Courts of Barcelona will have competence over specific fields of intellectual property.
 
This change will directly affect Spanish IP lawyers. Although, at the moment, this change applies only to the courts of Barcelona, it is understood that it is the first step towards the specialisation of Spanish courts in an area which, according to the CGPJ, is highly complex.
 
The legal situation is as follows:
  • Under Article 86ter (2) of the Spanish Judicial Organic Law, the Commercial Courts have competence over civil actions relating to unfair competition, intellectual property and advertising, as well as actions involving companies and certain antitrust procedures.
  • Under Article 86ter (1) and (3) of the law, and the remaining provisions of Article 86ter (2), the Commercial Courts have competence over certain non-IP related matters (eg, insolvency, transport and maritime matters).
  • Article 98.1 of the law provides the possibility that, in areas where there is more than one court of the same class, one or more will have exclusive competence over specific matters.
Previously, the situation in Barcelona was as follows:
  • None of the 10 Commercial Courts had been given exclusive competence over specific matters; and
  • The commercial judges of Barcelona had unanimously submitted a proposal to the CGPJ concerning the specialisation of the courts.
Within this legal and factual framework, the CGPJ accepted the proposal of the commercial judges. It was thus agreed that the Commercial Courts of Barcelona will be granted exclusive competence over specific matters, as follows:
  • Commercial Courts Nos 1, 4 and 5 will have competence over patent and advertising matters;
  • Commercial Courts Nos 2 and 8 will have competence over trademark, industrial design and copyright matters;
  • Commercial Courts Nos 3 and 7 will have competence over unfair competition and antitrust matters; and
  • Commercial Courts Nos 6, 9 and 10 will have competence over specific company matters.
The agreement specifies that the other matters over which the courts have competence will remain distributed as they are now.
 
The agreement came into force on January 1 2012 pursuant to Article 98 of the Judicial Organic Law. The courts will continue to hear all the cases currently underway until they reach a conclusion (Article 98(3) of the law).
 
Dalia Ferrando, Grau & Angulo, Barcelona

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