New bill rings alarm bells for IP courts in Poland
A new bill on the amendments to the Common Courts Act was presented on 24 April 2022. The bill proposes many structural changes to the court system in Poland, including one related to the IP courts. However, IP practitioners have expressed concerns at some of these suggestions.
Under one of the proposals, current court departments would be changed to chambers, with dedicated chambers for civil, penal and family law cases in each court. Moreover, each court would be able to create a chamber for commercial cases, where IP cases would be resolved. There are fears that the wording of this proposal allows for the interpretation that specialised IP courts, which were created almost two years ago, would cease to exist.
The bill is inconsistent in its content. Another proposal sets out that the minister of justice may delegate IP cases, in particular those concerning EU trademarks and community designs, to another court. This wording suggests that there will be a court dedicated to IP matters, even if other provisions indicate otherwise.
One instead of five
Currently, there are five IP courts in Poland: Gdańsk, Poznań, Lublin, Katowice, and Warsaw. As reported almost one year ago, more than 2,500 cases were filed in those specialised courts during the first year of IP courts in Poland.
Under the cited project, it would become possible for IP cases to be delegated from one court to another. Potentially this could be interpreted as suggesting that this would result in only one court dedicated to IP cases. Such a change could result in a situation where this one court would be overloaded with cases, which would in turn negatively affect the length and efficiency of proceedings. This proposal seems even more surprising given the reason of the bill in question, which includes among its objectives increasing the efficiency of courts and balancing judge’s caseloads.
Numbers of IP cases continue to rise each year. It is likely that the development of the digital economy will generate even more disputes in that area in the near future. The current five specialised IP courts in Poland appear to be responding to these challenges adequately.
Currently, the bill is open to public consultation. A group of IP practitioners has prepared a position proposing to introduce some changes to the bill aimed at ensuring that the currently functioning model of the judiciary in matters of intellectual property will be maintained, even if the structure and model of the judicial system is to be changed.
It is to be hoped that the specialised IP courts will be upheld in Poland. They guarantee that cases will be heard by someone with an appropriate substantive knowledge of IP matters and also raise the quality and adequacy of court decisions. Consequently, in the long run, they ensure the uniformity and stability of jurisprudence and speed of proceedings.
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