Paris court tries new set-up to boost its efficiency in IP cases


The Paris Court of First Instance is creating a new model in France to try IP cases.

Moving away from the classic division between civil and criminal chambers, the court will institute a new system whereby judges (one to begin with) of the third chamber, which hears all the civil IP cases in Paris, will also sit in the 31st chamber of the court, which tries criminal IP cases alongside other economic crimes. The 31st chamber is organizing special hearing days where only IP cases will be tried. Conversely, judges from the 31st chamber will be sitting with the judges of the third chamber in civil cases to gain a better experience of pure IP issues. Under the general rules of civil and criminal chambers, judges normally sit in a bench of three.

The purpose of the new system is to create a single pool of judges, who will probably make up a single chamber eventually, able to hear civil and criminal IP cases, including cases of flagrant déli (caught in the act) where simple criminal IP cases, such as those involving the sale of infringing goods on the street, could be tried in one day, similarly to what happens in cases of shoplifting or car-breaking.

The creation of the IP division is linked to a general modification of the civil procedure rules which entered into force in March 2006 to give judges a better control of the evolution of civil cases. One of the main changes brought by the new rules was the creation of a schedule for each case to help speed up proceedings. It is estimated that a simple patent case started in January 2006 will be heard by the end of October and probably decided before the end of the year. Such cases would have taken 18 months to two years before the change.

Other efforts to improve the court's handling of IP cases are being made, in particular with regards to patent cases. For instance, one idea under consideration is the use of scientific experts to assist judges on technical issues during trial.

Richard Milchior, Granrut Avocats, Paris

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