Another Court of First Instance decision on a Community trade mark has been posted on the Curia website in 16 official EU languages but again not in English. This time it's Case T-315/03, Hans-Peter Wilfer v OHIM, relating to registrability of the word mark ROCKBASS for goods in Classes 9, 15 and 18.
The IPKat says that this situation is simply intolerable and he can't understand why organisations representing English-speaking trade mark practitioners are not shaking the very foundations of the European Union with their trumpetings of rage. Where is the voice of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys? Or the Chartered Institute of Patent Agents? Or the Intellectual Property Institute? If they have been engaging in discreet behind-the-scenes diplomacy, it has obviously failed.
It's not acceptable for the European Commission to plead lack of resources to translate legal decisions and opinions into the most widely-understood language, professionally and commercially, in the European Union, when it can find the resources to translate those same materials into minority languages.
The translation issue is not confined to the Courts. The IPKat has it on good authority that some Board of Appeal decisions are prepared initially in English, then translated out of English into the "official" language in which it is posted on to the OHIM website. Is this true? If so, we should be told. If not, an attributable denial will be appreciated. The IPKat has also discovered that OHIM has its own internal English translations of many decisions that are kept in-house and made available for OHIM use only, on the basis that they are not "approved". That means that anyone who needs a translation has to pay for his own, which will almost certainly be a lot less "approved" than one which has been prepared in-house. Why cannot these translations be made available, with the word "unapproved" or "unofficial" added as a header on each printed page? If the cost of these translations has been met by fees paid by OHIM's users, it seems monstrous that those very users are prevented from using them.
It's both a matter of principle and a matter of professional necessity that the rulings of the European Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance should be available in English. The case for access to European Court rulings is a powerful one and the campaign to secure English translations should not be left to be led by a fictional cat.