Enforcement

Grounds for a claim

What are the key causes of action?

The most common way to commence an infringement case is by sending a warning letter before initiating court proceedings. This has proven to be an effective method since Greek infringers often cease infringement on receipt of a strongly worded cease and desist letter.

Rights holders and their exclusive licensees are entitled to bring infringement actions before the competent courts. In cases of co-ownership, infringement actions can be brought independently by each co-owner.

Procedures

What enforcement procedures are available?

Greece has two specialised EU (formerly Community) trademark and patent courts, based in Athens and Thessaloniki. These courts have exclusive jurisdiction over design infringement cases and copyright disputes under the conditions established by the applicable legislation. Judges serving these courts receive special training in intellectual property matters during their studies at the National School of Judges before their appointment to the bench.

Despite the effective protection provided by the courts, it is paramount that rights holders adopt preventive strategies and efficient monitoring systems. Inspired by the simplified procedure of Regulation (EU) No. 608/2013, Law No. 4155/2013 provides for a straightforward, effective process with respect to the seizure and immediate destruction of infringing goods located within the Greek territory. These actions may be implemented by several agencies, including:

  • Customs;
  • the police;
  • the Market Control Unit;
  • the Financial and Economic Crime Unit; and
  • the Coast Guard.
Remedies

What remedies are available?

If the design infringement is proved to have been intentional, the rights holder may seek one of the following forms of monetary compensation:

  • compensation for damages, which includes actual loss, lost profits and moral damages;
  • an account of profits; or
  • payment of hypothetical lost royalties that the infringer would have paid to the rights holder had a licence agreement been in place. In this case, the plaintiff must submit evidence to justify the requested amount.

 

The court can also order the destruction of the infringing products.

The law does not provide for punitive damages.

Under the Law on Patent Protection (which applies to designs by analogy), any party that affixes to the following a false statement that the products in question are protected by an industrial design certificate will be subject to up to a one-year prison term, a fine or both:

  • the products themselves;
  • the products’ wrapping or packaging;
  • any relevant commercial document intended for the public; or
  • any other relevant published or advertising material.

 

The law allows for expedited and even on-the-spot destruction of infringing goods, with the infringer’s consent.

Enforcement time frame

What are the time frames for the resolution of enforcement actions for registered and unregistered rights?

Although changes to the Law on Civil Court Proceedings have entered into force intending to simplify and accelerate proceedings, main proceedings still experience significant delays. This makes it indispensable for the rights holder to consider filing for preliminary proceedings – in particular, temporary restraining orders and injunctions.

The quickest way to halt infringement is to file a temporary restraining order. For the court to grant a restraining order, the petitioner must prove the existence of a prima facie serious infringement and the exceptional urgency of the matter; the element of urgency, in particular, must be evident for the grant of an injunction. The related request must be made at the same time as a petition for injunction. A granted temporary restraining order remains in effect until the hearing on the injunction takes place.

Within the framework of an injunction proceeding, the rights holder can request:

  • cessation of the infringement;
  • removal of the allegedly infringing products from the market; and
  • disclosure of detailed information and accounts concerning the defendant’s infringing activities.

 

The implementation of EU Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of intellectual property rights established the right of rights holders to request preservation of evidence, inspection and compensation for damages.

As a next step, rights holders can initiate an action on the merits, which becomes statute-barred either:

  • five years after the date on which the rights holder became aware of the infringement or damage and the identity of the infringing party; or
  • 20 years after the date on which the infringement was first committed.
Recent cases

What key cases from the past 18 months should rights holders be aware of?

There have been no key cases on design matters within the past 18 months.