At Monday night's Competition Law Association meeting on "Recent European Trade Mark Cases", hosted at Slaughter and May, IPKat's co-master Jeremy Phillips was outlining the increased length of time taken to resolve IP references to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and appeals both to the ECJ and the Court of First Instance.
On this issue, Justin Watts, an intellectual property partner with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, adds this:
When the ECJ quotes the length of its lists, I assume that means how long it has taken from referral for the cases currently before the court. That is not really a useful figure on which to base advice. Clients want to know how long a case referred now will take to reach judgment.
If the rate at which cases are referred exceeds the rate at which they are heard, then the waiting time for cases currently before the court must be an underestimate because the waiting list has grown between the current case starting and being heard.
Assuming a simple model in which the rate at which cases is heard is a constant (n), and the rate at which they are referred is also constant (N), then the current waiting time for cases in court now will underestimate the actual waiting time for new cases by a factor of N/n. Based on the figures given last night, with 446 new cases but only 331 cases heard per year, new cases will have to wait 35% longer than current waiting times. That means 34.5, not 25.5, months.
This is more or less consistent with the number calculated starting from the number of outstanding cases - 999 - against the number heard per year - 331. At that rate, a case added to the list now will take (999/331) years, or 36.2 months, to work its way through.
In other words, the position is already much worse than it looks. Add on to that all the reasons you gave for why, in fact, the rate at which cases are added is in fact growing, and it becomes even more worrying.
Lengthy litigation here, here and here
Swift justice here, here and here