On November 23 2011 the Judicial Power Council announced an agreement that the commercial courts of Barcelona will each have competence in a specific field of intellectual property.

This innovation will directly affect Spanish IP lawyers. Although this agreement currently refers only to Barcelona courts, it is understood as being the first step towards the desired specialisation of all Spanish courts in an area which the council recognises as highly complex.

The legal situation before the agreement was as follows:

  • Article 86 ter 2 of the Organic Judicial Law grants the commercial courts competence over civil actions relating to unfair competition, intellectual property and advertising, as well as other actions regarding companies and for certain antitrust proceedings;
  • Articles 86 ter 1 and 3 of the law confer competence to the commercial courts over other non-IP related matters (eg, insolvency, transport and maritime cases); and
  • Article 98.1 of the law provides for the possibility that in areas where there is more than one court of the same class, one or more of them will have exclusive competence over specific kinds of matters.

The situation with regard to the Barcelona commercial courts was as follows:

  • There are 10 commercial courts in Barcelona;
  • None of the 10 commercial courts of Barcelona has been given exclusive competence for any specific matter; and
  • The commercial judges of Barcelona have unanimously raised this proposal for specialisation to the council.

Within this legal and factual framework, the council accepted the proposal of specialisation. The commercial courts have therefore been granted exclusive competence over matters as follows:

  • Commercial Courts 1, 4 and 5 regarding patents and advertising;
  • Commercial Courts 2 and 8 regarding trademarks, industrial designs and copyright;
  • Commercial Courts 3 and 7 regarding unfair competition and antitrust activities; and
  • Commercial Courts 6, 9 and 10 regarding specific matters involving companies.

The agreement specifies that the other matters which are also under the competence of the commercial courts will continue to be distributed as they were before the agreement.

In accordance with Article 98 of the law, the agreement came into force on January 1 2012. Under Article 98.3, the courts concerned will continue to have competence over all proceedings currently underway until they reach their conclusion.

For further information on this topic please contact Dalia Ferrando at Grau & Angulo by telephone (+34 93 202 34 56), fax (+34 93 240 53 83) or email ([email protected]).