In September 2013, Finland established a new centralised and specialised IP court in Helsinki. It was the first country in the Nordic region to do so.
The new Finnish IP court, which is officially called the 'Market Court', has exclusive jurisdiction to hear all IP cases at the first instance, although IP cases which involve criminal proceedings remain within the remit of the District Courts.
Since September 2013, the Finnish IP court has received more than 300 trade mark cases. Approximately 90% of the cases received by the Market Court have been trade mark application appeals relating to administrative decisions taken by the Finnish Patent and Registration Office. The remaining cases received have been general trade mark disputes, including claims for trade mark infringement.
As appeals relating to the administrative decisions of the Finnish Patent and Registration Office are now decided in the Market Court, it is anticipated that the court is likely to continue to have a steady flow of trade mark cases. New case law from the Finnish IP court is of particular importance for two reasons:
- The court benefits from the expertise of specialist IP judges who have particular interest and experience in IP law; and
- The judgments of the Market Court will in the majority of cases be final decisions because an appeal against a Market Court judgment is usually only possible if the Supreme Court grants leave to appeal (and historically this has only been granted in about 10% of cases in which permission was sought).
The forthcoming European patent reform with the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is one of the key factors driving these changes to the way that Finland handles IP cases. Indeed, Finland has decided to set up its own local division of the UPC in connection with the Market Court.
This article is part of BrandWrites by Bird & Bird - May 2015