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Thursday, 12 February 2015

European trade mark judges: it's time to join the Circle

What are Europe's trade mark
judges cooking up now ...?
Late last year this Kat got to hear about an organisation which, if not exactly clandestine, was certainly unknown to him. Judging by its online presence this organisation may well be unknown to practically everyone except its members and their most intimate friends and family. It's CET-J -- the Circle of European Trademark-Judges. Information about the existence of CET-J was entrusted to this Kat and to fellow Katblogger Neil by the charming and erudite Marianne Grabrucker, herself a former Presiding Judge in the Trade Mark Boards of the Bundespatentgericht (that's the German Federal Patents Court) and the person responsible for organising CET-J.

Marianne tells us that the Circle has met for the past three years (twice in the Villa Vigoni, Lake Como, and once in Bellinzona, Switzerland/Ticino. An independent group of 15 judges from Austria, Hungary, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Turkey, France the United Kingdom, Portugal, Italy, Germany and OHIM [Merpel is happy to think of OHIM Board of Appeal members as real, independent judges and not as cogs in a big machine or a mere administrative filter to weed out those occasional failings from down below]. She adds:
"A slowly but steadily growing group which works on trade mark law, we are seeking to enlarge, and to become a voice in harmonising European trade mark jurisprudence. Between meetings,
  • we inform each other about important developments in our countries such as new references to the Court of Justice of the European Union, 
  • we exchange comments concerning our national essential decisions and academic problems by email, 
  • we answer colleagues' questions, if and when they arise. 
This European trade mark judges' network. We are under the official patronage of the ERA (the European Law Academy), but without any monetary subsidy".
Travel costs and dinners are paid by the judges privately or by their courts [this inspires Merpel to propose an "eat-what-you-kill" policy by which IP judges receive a portion of each damages award they make, for travel and accommodation]; accommodation and lunches are paid by our sponsors, the German GRUR and Markenverband [ooh, says Merpel -- isn't this an organisation of brand-owners ...? She assumes that the judges, in a display of impartiality, will be equally happy to eat and sleep at the expense of the European Association of Euro-Pharmaceutical Companies (EAEPC), which has provided many defendants over the years in trade mark infringement cases, just as Markenverband has provided many plaintiffs ...] and the Swiss INGRES.  To be fair, CET-J is looking for more sponsors to help meet expenses as it expands. If you are interested in helping out and can spare a donation of not be more than €1.500, do please contact Marianne here.

CET-J is also anxious to hear from European trade mark judges who are not yet involved, especially but not exclusively from the many jurisdictions that are not yet represented. Again, if you are a trade mark judge and want to express your interest [and the Kats know that lots of trade mark judges read this blog, since some of them have become email pen-pals], just contact Marianne here.

The IPKat thinks this is a great initiative and wishes it every success.  He has watched over the years as patent judges have got together to discuss substantive legal and procedural matters of mutual interest and, it seems to him, this has resulted not only in a greater consistency in the application of the law but an increased respect for the decisions of judicial colleagues in other jurisdictions.  He is confident that, with plenty of participation, adequate sponsorship and a little patience, CET-J will achieve a great deal, to the benefit of litigants, consumers and IP bloggers alike.

1 comment:

Inez & Gus Bodur said...

This is very interesting and we hope it helps trade mark owners, however large or small they are, get the right and fair decisions.

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