The IPKat is back from his break, fresh for the fray. First thing on his agenda is the language issue.
New readers begin here. After many moans about the non-availability of English-language versions of European Court of Justice, Court of First Instance and OHIM rulings, the IPKat quite lost his temper. He wrote:
"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.Also, speaking at ECTA's 25th Anniversary Meeting in London on Thursday, IPKat co-owner Jeremy made an unscripted passionate plea to an international audience about the need for access to these important texts for English-speakers.
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".
Regulars begin here. The IPKat has since learned from a friendly mole that the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA) is picking up the IPKat's gauntlet regarding the issue of languages before the ECJ. His source writes: "There will probably just be some editorial in the ITMA Review to start with, but there are people on the Registry Practice Working Group who intend to make it a live issue with the Patent Office so that they can run with it too..". Another mole reports from the LES Meeting in Munich: "Alexander von Muhlendahl gave a speech this morning and I asked him about the translation situation during the Q&A session. He said initially that people should learn a second language - but recognised this was a little facetious- then asked why OHIM should provide translations. Finally, however, he stated that the Office is currently looking at giving access to the non-official translations you mentioned in the original rant on the basis that people recognised they were not verified versions".
The suggestion that the English (or anyone else) should learn a second language does not address the issue at all, in a Europe in which there are 20 official languages. English is the most widely used language. It is also the language used by a very large number of the world's major trade mark owners. It's time for the European legal and administrative establishment to get real and grant meaningful access to its trade mark law rulings for the communities who depend on them -- and whose heavy use of the system continues to fund it.
Keep the pressure up! At last, we're getting somewhere.