In an effort to streamline the adjudication of IP cases in Poland, specialized courts will be introduced next year. The courts will very likely improve the speed, efficiency, and expertise with which IP cases are handled – a win for all parties involved.
The Current Structure Relies on Regular Courts for Different IP Cases
Claims in Poland involving alleged infringements of intellectual property rights – including, for example, claims of piracy with respect to copyrights and trademarks – are currently heard by common courts and the Polish Supreme Court. Some cases in the field of industrial property law, including complaints regarding the decisions of the country's Patent Office, are handled by the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw and the Supreme Administrative Court.
Cases related to community trademarks and community industrial designs, on the other hand, are examined by a special department of the District Court in Warsaw – the Court of EU Trademarks and Community Designs.
Heavy Caseload Necessitated Structural Changes
The large increase of cases year-by-year made the creation of specialized courts and a workforce of court clerks with competencies in intellectual property necessary. On December 3, 2019, the Council of Ministers adopted an amendment to the Code of Civil Procedure prepared by the Ministry of Justice to further specialize the judiciary, and the amendments will enter into force on July 1, 2020.
The specialized courts will deal with cases in the field of copyright and related rights, industrial property rights, and unfair competition. They will also consider certain categories of cases involving the protection of personal rights, including cases involving the unlawful use of copyrights and trademarks.
Courts to Become More Focused on Specific Areas of IP
New departments for IP matters will be created at the District Courts in Gdansk, Katowice, Poznan, and Warsaw, and specialized departments will be established in the Courts of Appeal in Warsaw and Katowice. This will replace the current system, in which intellectual property matters, including those relating to highly specialized issues such as patents, plant varieties, and trademarks, are examined by commercial departments of common courts.
A specialized court that was previously established within the 22nd Department of the District Court in Warsaw for cases involving EU trademarks and community designs will lose the exclusive competence to deal with those cases and will consider IP claims regarding computer programs, inventions, designs utility, topography of integrated circuits, plant varieties, and trade secrets of a technical nature (i.e., matters of advanced complexity).
A Clear Step Forward for How IP Cases Will be Handled
The changes represent a positive step for the court system, as there have been discussions regarding the creation of a specialized court to settle intellectual property matters for many years. In order to conduct proceedings in these cases, it will be necessary to have highly trained judges who are familiar with IP/IT issues. The new rules also require parties in IP cases to be represented by professional lawyers, legal advisers, and patent attorneys. This will further contribute to the speed and efficiency of proceedings and help to usher in a new era of how these cases are handled in Poland.
Authors: Marcin Rudnik, Head of IP/IT, and Monika Gaczkowska, Associate, Wolf Theiss Warsaw