Spain sets up new commercial courts for IP matters

Spain

New commercial courts (Juzgados de lo Mercantil) came into operation in Spain on September 1. The new courts have taken over the exclusive competence in IP and unfair competition litigation from the civil courts of first instance (Juzgados de Primera Instancia).

The judicial system reform provides that at least one commercial court be set up in the capital of each province. Each court has jurisdiction for the whole province. So far, only 24 courts have been established:

  • five in Madrid;

  • four in Barcelona;

  • two in Valencia; and

  • one in each of the following cities: Alicante, Bilbao, Cadiz, La Coruña, Las Palmas, Malaga, Murcia, Oviedo, Palma de Majorca, Pontevedra, San Sebastian, Seville and Tenerife.

Until further commercial courts are set up, 12 civil courts of first instance will combine their civil functions with those of the commercial courts in Almeria, Ceuta, Cordoba, Girona, Granada, Leon, Lleida, Logroño, Santander, Tarragona, Valladolid and Zaragoza.

As for second instance courts, the reform establishes that one or more sections of every court of appeal will specialize and be competent to deal with and solve the appeals filed against the judgments rendered by the commercial courts.

Finally, the commercial courts of Alicante will also have exclusive competence and jurisdiction in Spain to decide Community trademark and design cases.

It is worth noting that, besides intellectual property and unfair competition, the new commercial courts will also have exclusive competence in cases relating to, among other things, advertising, insolvency, maritime law and transport. This means that, although the new courts are meant to improve the quality, uniformity and swiftness of Spanish judgments and, therefore, increase legal certainty, the degree of specialization will only be relative.

Javier Huarte, Grau Baylos & Angulo, Barcelona

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