An extract from The Intellectual Property Review, 9th Edition

Enforcement of rights

Traditionally, the courts are the proper venue before which infringement proceedings may be brought. Article 60 of the Patents Law 1998 defines the rights acquired with the grant of a patent, while Article 61 sets out the civil actions and remedies available to the right holder. If an infringement is proved in court, the court may rule for an injunction, damages, account of profits and other appropriate remedies. Should a court order be disobeyed, the infringer may be found liable in damages for up to €59,850. The burden of proof in such cases is on the plaintiff.

Similarly, with regard to industrial designs, rights conferred upon protection are defined in Article 18 of the 2002 Industrial Designs legislation. The difference is that breach of Article 18(1) confers criminal liability on the infringer, which is punishable with two years of imprisonment or a fine of €85,500, or both.

As far as trademark infringement is concerned, the appropriate venue for such proceedings is yet again the civil courts. The remedies available are the ones as in the case of patents and industrial designs, applying mutatis mutandis.

Enforcement of rights could also be a reference to the opposition proceedings during the application stage as well annulment proceedings, after the registration of a mark.

i Opposition proceedings

If an opposition to a trademark application is filed, the parties involved will be invited to present their case before the Trademark Registrar. Each party has the right to present their respective submissions either in writing, which will have to be accompanied by a sworn affidavit confirming the truthfulness of the content submitted, or to present his or her case orally. The Registrar then issues its decision, which may be appealed before the administrative court.

ii Annulment proceedings

The post-registration opposition procedure is the annulment procedure, also known as expungement. The procedure for expungement is identical to the pre-registration opposition procedure, albeit a different form has to be submitted.

To date, most expungement cases have either been suspended owing to the excessive length of the procedure or are still pending the final decision of the Registrar. The minimum length of time before a final decision is five years, which makes this process very time-consuming, relatively costly and not worth pursuing. However, this is expected to change radically upon the passing and implementation of the new trademark law outlined above.