After many years of discussions and preparations, on 1 July 2020, 5 Regional Courts for Intellectual Property, in Warsaw, Gdańsk, Lublin, Poznań, and Katowice and two Courts of Appeal in Poznań and Warsaw started operating in Poland.[1]

The cases which constitute intellectual property cases include (Article 47089 of the Code of Civil Procedure):

  • protection of copyright and related rights;
  • protection of industrial property rights;
  • protection of other rights on intangible assets;

as well as

  • preventing and combating unfair competition;
  • protection of personal rights in so far as it concerns the use of personal rights for the purpose of individualisation, advertising or promotion of the trader, goods or services;
  • protection of personal rights in connection with scientific or inventive activities.

The Regional Court in Warsaw is designated as the only one competent to examine intellectual property cases concerning computer programs, inventions, utility models, topographies of integrated circuits, plant varieties and trade secrets of a technical nature.

Cases concerning EU trademarks and Community designs fall within the competence of the five abovementioned Regional Courts.[2]

With the establishment of the Intellectual Property Courts, the Code of Civil Procedure[3] was amended. Provisions on proceedings in intellectual property cases were introduced (Section IVg of the CCP). The most important uniform regulations for all intellectual property matters, which take into account their specific nature and aim to improve their examinations, should be considered as the following:

Changes in the awarding of monetary claims. It will be possible for the court to award an appropriate amount of money according to the own court’s assessment based on consideration of all the circumstances of the case, if in the case of an infringement the court considers that it is impossible, excessively difficult or obviously pointless to prove precisely the amount of the claim (Article 47993 of CCP).

Provisions on the preservation of evidence. These provisions shall apply to any person in whose custody the evidence is located or who may enable it to be secured, and not only to the potential infringer. The court may, upon application by the right holder, grant security for the measure of evidence both before and during the proceedings. In the application, the right holder must substantiate the claim and the legal interest in the security. A legal interest exists in particular when the absence of the requested security makes it impossible or seriously impedes the citing or proving of important facts, and when there is a risk of destroying the evidence (Article 47996 of CCP and subsequent articles). The purpose of the regulation is not only to take evidence, but first of all to obtain information about the infringement and, consequently, to facilitate the formulation of the statement of claim.

The court shall decide in any way whatsoever on the method of securing, in particular it may order the collection and securing of all infringing goods or documents. Moreover, during the performance of the security, a bailiff shall collect the objects and draw up a report without the participation of the entitled person. The court may summon an expert to take part in the execution of the order to secure the evidence. If the court grants the security of the evidence before initiating the proceedings, it shall set a time limit for bringing the main action.

Provisions on disclosure or release of evidence. In a case of an infringement of an intellectual property right, a plaintiff may request a disclosure or a release of evidence that makes the claim plausible. He may make such a request only against the defendant. If the request is granted, the court shall set a time-limit within which the defendant shall disclose or give the requested release of evidence. The court’s order shall be enforceable as soon as it is issued. If the defendant fails to comply with the order, the court may impose penalties in the form of an obligation to reimburse the costs of the proceedings irrespective of the outcome of the case or may treat as established facts to be established by that measure.

The provisions on the request for information shall apply to persons, including the defendant, who have the information requested. Pursuant to Article 479113 of the CCP, the court may summon the infringer to provide information on the origin and distribution networks of the goods or services if this is necessary to pursue the claim. The request is made by the right holder, who must demonstrate credibly the circumstances indicating the infringement, but does not have to demonstrate a legal interest.

However, the request for information only concerns information from a closed catalogue (Art. 479115 of the CCP). This is information on the quantity of goods or services produced and prices received in return; information on the company, registered office of the producer or distributor of goods and services.

These provisions also apply to non-infringing persons who own or supply goods or services to the extent that they are of such a size that they actually carry out the business of the service in violation of an intellectual property right by another person. (Art. 479114 of the CCP)

The amendment also introduces special actions in intellectual property cases:

  • a counterclaim for infringement of a trademark or design is admissible if it includes a request for a declaration of invalidity or revocation of a trademark or includes a request for a declaration of invalidity of a registered design. Moreover, such a counterclaim is admissible if the counterclaim is in connection with the claimant’s claim or is deductible. It may be brought no later than in response to the claim.

As soon as the counterclaim is filed, the court requests the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland to provide information on the proceedings regarding the effective state of the disputed law. If proceedings in this case are already pending before the Patent Office the court suspends the proceedings. In the situation when the case before the Patent Office is finally concluded as to the subject matter of the counterclaim, the court rejects the counterclaim.

  • a lawsuit for establishing that the actions taken or intended by the claimant do not constitute an infringement of a patent, additional right of protection, protection right or registered right. The claimant in bringing this action must demonstrate the existence of a legal interest. The legal interest exists if the respondent has found the actions performed to infringe the aforementioned right or if the respondent has not confirmed within the specified time limit that the actions covered by the claim do not constitute infringement of the aforementioned rights.

 

In accordance with the intertemporal provisions, the above provisions will not apply in cases initiated and not completed in a given instance or before the Supreme Court until the date of entry into force of the amending act. Such cases will continue to be examined by the courts in which they were initiated.

[1] Regulation of the Minister of Justice of 29 June 2020 on transferring to certain courts of appeal examination of intellectual property cases from the jurisdiction or part of the jurisdiction of other courts of appeal (Journal of Laws of 2020, item 1151)

[2] Regulation of the Minister of Justice of 29 June 2020 on the designation of district courts competent to hear cases related to the protection of EU trade marks and Community designs (Journal of Laws 2020, item 1150)

[3] Act of 13 February 2020 amending the Act – Code of Civil Procedure and certain other acts (Journal of Laws 2020 item 288)

NOTE:

[1] Regulation of the Minister of Justice of 29 June 2020 on transferring to certain courts of appeal examination of intellectual property cases from the jurisdiction or part of the jurisdiction of other courts of appeal (Journal of Laws of 2020, item 1151)

[1] Regulation of the Minister of Justice of 29 June 2020 on the designation of district courts competent to hear cases related to the protection of EU trade marks and Community designs (Journal of Laws 2020, item 1150)

[1] Act of 13 February 2020 amending the Act – Code of Civil Procedure and certain other acts (Journal of Laws 2020 item 288)