26 May, 2008
For the first time in Latvia an extensive research has been performed regarding the court practice in the field of the industrial property. To summarize the court practice in the cases regarding trade marks, the Supreme Court invited recognized specialists on trade marks – the Advisor to the Director of the Patent Board Janis Ancitis and the Director of the Department of Trade Marks and Design Samples Dace Liberte. The study was led by the Chairman of the Chamber of Civil Cases of the Supreme Court Gunars Aigars and the judge Vanda Cirule.
The summary of the court practice deals with the main problems of application of legal standards of trade marks in the Latvian courts. About 200 court rulings were analyzed which were adopted in the period of 2003 – 2006 in three court instances: in the Panel of Civil Cases of the Riga Regional Court which according to the competence regulations reviews the disputes on trade marks in the first instance, in the Chamber of Civil Cases of the Supreme Court which is the appellate instance, and in the Department of Civil Cases of the Senate as the cassation instance. It was taken into account that the Panel of Civil cases of the Riga Regional Court and the Chamber of Civil Cases of the Supreme Court performs also the trade marks functions of the Community, thus this practice is commensurable with court practice of the courts of other EU member states and the Court of the European Community.
The authors of the research have found several problems dealing with which the court practice has been inconsistent or unconvincing. The difficulties mostly are seen in the understanding of the respective legislative institutions and standards and precise application in compliance with today’s requirements, taking into account also the interpretation of substantive law standards on trade marks provided by the Court of the European Community.
Objective assessment of the court practice in the cases related to trade marks was hindered by the lack of accurate record keeping and statistics of the cases. Although the disputes regarding trade marks in the field of industrial property are the most widespread disputes in the practice both in Latvia and in other countries, the statistical reports on civil cases regarding industrial property are not separated as an independent group. Thus, at the present moment it may only be assumed that disputes on trade marks total in about twenty or more new civil cases every year.
The authors of the study have stressed the increase of judicial competence in reviewing the cases on trade marks as a significant urgent issue. At the present time, in the first instance these cases are reviewed just by several judges, besides, the majority of the cases – by one concrete judge of the Panel of Civil Cases of the Riga Regional Court. Thus, other judges of the court have not much practice in reviewing such cases. In the Chamber of Civil Cases of the Supreme Court which hears the cases in the second instance in the composition of three judges, there does not exist such specialization of judges, the composition of judges changes. However, taking into account that the disputes regarding industrial property, among them – disputes on trades marks, are complicated and specific, and that these courts perform the tasks of the first and second instance courts of trade marks of the Community, it is very important that the judges have special knowledge and experience in these matters. It is not possible objectively to ensure additional training of a great number of judges in the matters of the industrial property, as only few can participate in respective international meetings, seminars and conferences which give qualified analysis of practice of the courts in other countries and the Court of the European Community. The authors of the research advise to consider formation of specialized court compositions in these courts for reviewing disputes on industrial property. Such specialization by no means should be developed in contradiction to the basic principle of random distribution of cases, the aim of it is only to increase the quality of reviewing such cases. As the total number of disputes on industrial property per year may not ensure sufficient work load, the authors suggest that the respective judges, along with the industrial property, could specialize in any other related field, e.g., commercial law.
Since May 1, 2004, in Latvia and in regard to Latvia there are three systems of trade mark registration – the national, the international registration, as well as the trade mark system of the Community – having basically equal legal force of the trade marks, but various territory of activities and specific interconnections. The research performed in the Supreme Court regarding the court practice in the field of industrial property is a useful help for the judges, especially the judges of the Riga Regional Court and the Chamber of Civil Cases who hear the cases of this category.
Full text of the research is available on the Supreme Court website www.at.gov.lv, section Court Information/Summaries of Court Practice.
Information prepared by
Head of the Division of Communications of the Supreme Court Rasma Zvejniece
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: 7020396, 28652211