Finland: Proposal to establish new Intellectual Property Court

11 August 2010

Ella Mikkola, Risto Sandvik

A working group proposes that the Market Court should have exclusive jurisdiction to handle all intellectual property related disputes in Finland.

Today most, but not all, intellectual property-related disputes are centralised and argued before one court in Finland - the District Court of Helsinki. The most notable exceptions to this are copyright disputes, which are handled by all District Courts in Finland, and registration-related administrative proceedings which are handled by the Board of Appeal of the National Board of Patents and Registration.

According to the recent proposal, litigation concerning infringement or invalidation of patents, utility models, copyrights, trade marks, company names, designs, domain names, employee inventions and other intellectual property rights, including related precautionary and interim measures; claims for compensation related to the disputes; matters concerning unfair competition / marketing practices; as well as registrations-related appeals, should be handled by the Market Court.

However, criminal proceedings would remain before the District Courts: the District Court of Helsinki would have the exclusive jurisdiction over criminal proceedings concerning industrial property rights, and all District Courts would handle copyright-related criminal cases.

The Finnish Ministry of Justice published the report of the working group on the centralisation of the handling of intellectual property disputes in spring 2010. After publication of the report, a number of government departments, companies, intellectual property associations, and other interest groups have commented upon the proposal upon Ministry’s request. One of the most debated issues relates to the appeal process, namely whether infringement-related appeals should be first filed to the Court of Appeal of Helsinki and thereafter to the Supreme Court of Finland, or whether they should go directly to the Supreme Court, which currently only handles cases in which it has granted leave to appeal (granted in around 10% of the appeals).

Many companies and several interest groups support the creation of a specialised intellectual property court. The proposed centralisation, however, requires additional resources to be allocated to the Market Court. It remains to be seen whether this will stall the Finnish Government’s introduction of the proposed changes to the Finnish Parliament under the current economic situation.

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