Law & Practice
POLAND: Specialized IP Courts Established
Published: October 14, 2020
Justyna Kamińska Kulikowska & Kulikowski Sp. k. Warsaw, Poland
Aleksandra Rostkowska Darts-IP Brussels, Belgium INTA Bulletins Committee—Europe Subcommittee
New intellectual property (IP) courts dealing only with IP matters have been established in Poland, with the aim of speeding up and facilitating judicial protection of these rights.
An amendment to the Polish law was introduced by the “Act of February 13, 2020, amending the Polish Act on the Civil Procedure,” the Polish Industrial Property Law Act, and other acts. Journal of Laws of 2020, item 288. With this amendment, new courts specializing in IP cases were established and began operating on July 1, 2020.
All IP matters are being handled by five district courts, in Gdańsk, Katowice, Lublin, Poznań and Warsaw as first instance courts, and by two appellate courts, in Poznań and Warsaw, as second instance courts.
The IP courts deal with matters such as the following:
- Industrial property rights (trademarks, patents, industrial designs, utility models, geographical indications, and topographies of integrated circuits);
- Protection of business names;
- The law on unfair competition; and
- Protection of personal rights, in some cases.
The IP courts are also designated European Union Trade Mark (EUTM) and Community design courts, and as a result, the district and appellate courts in Warsaw are no longer the only courts dealing with EUTM and Community design cases in Poland.
The amendment introduces uniform procedures for all IP rights with respect to evidence. This includes specific procedures on how a plaintiff is to apply for evidence to be presented regarding an infringement that lies in the hands of third parties. It also sets procedures for a request for disclosure or delivery of evidence, and those to request to secure evidence by, for example, collecting goods, materials, and tools used for production or distribution of infringing products. These provisions serve to implement Articles 6‒8 of Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of April 29, 2004, on the enforcement of IP rights (also known as the IPR Enforcement Directive).
The new law also introduces the possibility of bringing counterclaims for invalidity of a trademark or an industrial design, or non-use of a trademark in proceedings concerning the infringement of a national trademark or industrial design. Previously, such counterclaims were only permissible in cases concerning EUTM or Community designs.
Further, the new law establishes another type of special action: proceedings for a declaration of non-infringement. This ensures that parties have the possibility of proactively clearing the use of a trademark or design without being blocked by the IP rights holder.
The amendment provides a requirement for the mandatory representation of a party by a patent attorney, attorney-at-law, or legal advisor, though this does not apply if the value of the dispute does not exceed PLN 20.000 (US $5,100), or in cases of less complexity.
INTA’s Legislation and Regulation Committee—Europe and Central Asia Subcommittee submitted comments to the Polish Ministry of Justice on the draft law in 2019, advocating for such reform.
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