Government proposes establishment of new Patent and Market Court
In order to ensure effective competition and strong consumer protection in Sweden, it is of great importance that the courts, when ruling on cases regarding IP rights, marketing and competition, maintain a high level of efficiency and quality, as well as unanimous precedence.
On June 11 2015 the Swedish government sent a referral to the Council of Legislation asking it to review its proposal for a new court. The government proposed that both the Court of Patent Appeals and the Market Court should cease to exist in order to give way to the combined Patent and Market Court. In the new court, all aspects of IP, marketing and competition law would be tried in one place.
Under the current system, the courts are split into the district courts, the administrative courts, the Court of Patent Appeals and the Market Court. However, it has become clear that the court process is not as efficient as it could be, especially regarding the aforementioned legal areas. For instance, a company might have to appear in several different courts in order to protect its intellectual property fully. This results in high costs and a great expenditure of time.
This is also a problem for the courts. If the proceedings were not scattered across several different instances, it is reasonable to assume that this would be less time consuming for everyone involved and help to preserve competency within such a complex legal area. In addition, the risk that different courts could issue contradictory decisions in similar cases may be avoided.
Based on the government's proposal, it is clear that the new Patent and Market Court is intended to be located in the District Court of Stockholm, while the Svea Court of Appeal, also situated in Stockholm, will be hosting the Patent and Market Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court will be responsible for setting precedence and, therefore, it will be possible to appeal to this court. However, an appeal may be filed only upon approval by the Patent and Market Court of Appeals.
In cases involving the prohibition or imposition of concentrations, the Patent and Market Court of Appeals will act as the court of last instance. Criminal cases will always be eligible to be appealed to the Supreme Court.
According to a press release published on the Government Office’s official website, the proposed court system will lead to "an increase in efficiency and quality in trials, partly because of the concentration of competence that it will bring”.
A new law regarding patent and market courts is also part of the proposal. The proposition includes rules regarding the applicable procedural law, the court's structure and its management in order to ensure effective proceedings. Among other things, the law enables certain cases to be joined and includes the possibility of dismissing a party’s evidence on the ground that it was presented to the court at a later stage.
Arguably, the government’s proposal for a new Patent and Market Court has been issued in a most timely fashion. Sweden is making it easier to become integrated in the new system that is rapidly developing throughout Europe (ie, for patents).
Tom Kronhöffer and Fredrik Johansson, von lode advokat ab, Stockholm
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