Magistrates' committee finds fault with new IP court system

Italy

The Supreme Magistrates' Committee has issued a resolution (503/FT/2003) that highlights problems arising from the establishment of special divisions to deal with intellectual property (IP) matters (see Italy sets up specialized IP courts).

The committee's resolution pointed out that, based on the wording of Legislative Decree 168 setting up the new IP courts, it is not clear whether the judges of the special divisions sit exclusively for those divisions or can also sit as judges for the ordinary divisions of the relevant court and, thus, deal with disputes other than those listed by the decree. Another area of confusion is whether the special divisions are to be considered as new divisions or the result of a mere reorganization of the existing ordinary divisions within each court.

The committee suggested the following:

  • Only the courts where the workload in IP disputes is significant (namely, Rome and Milan) should be allowed to allocate judges to the special divisions on an exclusive basis. The judges of the special divisions in other courts should be permitted to sit as judges in the ordinary divisions.

  • The special divisions should be treated as newly established divisions and, thus, a reform of the organizational chart within each of the 12 courts should take place.

  • Each court should submit to the committee a report on the number of cases heard and decided by each judge of the divisions after the first six months of operation, so as to better identify the criteria for the allocation of new cases.

The special divisions have not been in place long enough to allow an appraisal of their standard of performance. It is, however, expected that assignment of IP disputes to specialized judges will result in an improvement of the system, especially in terms of reducing the length of proceedings.

Francesca Rolla, Lovells, Milan

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