Curia and curiouser: law reports, authenticity and the Court of Justice

It's time for to leave Wonderland
and enter the real world
Taking a stroll along the cyber-highway this afternoon, the IPKat chanced upon this little gem from the Curia website of the Court of Justice of the European Union:

"Disclaimer and warning

The texts and information contained in the Court's internet site are available free of charge for the purposes of public information.

The texts of the judgments, orders, Opinions and notices present on the site are subject to amendment; only the versions published in the "Reports of Cases before the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance" or the "Official Journal of the European Union" are authentic [That is so unhelpful.  It takes an astonishingly long time to turn a piece of text which is good enough to post online into a printed document.  In last week's ruling of the ECJ in Case C-552/09 P Ferrero the court referred to two of its earlier decisions, C-398/07 P and C-57/08 P, decided on 7 May 2009 and 11 December 2008 respectively -- and both still unreported].

The information and texts available on this site may be reproduced provided the source is acknowledged [How must this be acknowledged? Is a direct hyperlink sufficient, or is there a preferred format for online and printed reproductions?]. Readers should be aware that certain parts of such information and texts might be protected under intellectual property law, in particular by copyright [Readers should also be aware that the fact that accessed material may be protected by IPR, and in particular copyright, does not mean that any unauthorised use constitutes an infringement of any such rights].
Links to the pages on this site are permitted provided that:

- the browser window does not contain any information other than that of the page of the present site to which the link is made and its address; [The IPKat is happy to oblige, but Merpel can't help wondering as to what provisions of European Union or national law Curia might wish to evoke if this condition was not fulfilled]

- none of the information provided on this site is modified [Hmm, sniffs Merpel, it does say earlier that the site's contents are "subject to amendment", but it doesn't say by whom!]".
This member of the IPKat team lives in the present, and considers that life's too short to wait years and years for the printed versions of ECJ and General Court rulings.  Since the courts themselves are content to rely on the non-authentic versions which they continue to cite, we shouldn't lose too much sleep over it either. 

Merpel adds, material published in the Official Journal of the European Union might be authentic and only a month or two behind the actual rulings, but on the whole it's useless for any legal purposes.  An example taken at random is the official and presumably authentic note of a General Court decision from 11 February 2011, published online in the Official Journal on 24 March here:
Judgment of the General Court of 15 February 2011 — Yorma's v OHIM — Norma Lebensmittelfilialbetrieb (YORMA’S)

(Case T-213/09) ( 1 )

(Community trade mark — Opposition proceedings — Application for the Community figurative mark including the word element ‘yorma’s’ — Earlier Community word mark NORMA — Relative ground for refusal — Likelihood of confusion — Article 8(1)(b) of Regulation (EC) No 40/94 (now Article 8(1)(b) of Regulation (EC) No 207/2009))

(2011/C 95/11)

Language of the case: German


Applicant: Yorma’s AG (Deggendorf, Germany) (represented by: A. Weiß, lawyer)

Defendant: Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) (represented by: S. Schäffner, acting as Agent)

Other party to the proceedings before the Board of Appeal of OHIM, intervener before the General Court: Norma Lebensmittelfilialbetrieb GmbH & Co. KG (Nuremberg, Germany) (represented by: A. von Welser, lawyer)


Action brought against the decision of the First Board of Appeal of OHIM of 20 February 2009 (Case R 1879/2007-1), concerning opposition proceedings between Norma Lebensmittelfilialbetrieb GmbH & Co. KG and Yorma’s AG

Operative part of the judgment

The Court:

1. dismisses the action;

2. orders Yorma’s AG to pay the costs.
There's no clue as to what the basis for the decision is, yet it's that which might tempt someone to look at the decision in the first place.  There's no link to the decision against which the appeal is made, and which will contain (i) the facts, (ii) the arguments and (iii) an illustration of the figurative mark -- all of which are more important for the reader than the padded pomposity of the defendant's full name ("Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs)") -- a name by which this Kat has never heard any of its employees refer to it in conversation.

It's 2011 and we're in a different world from 1952, when the Official Journal's most distant predecessor was first published -- yet series remains obstinately unchanged.  Let's have some joined-up thinking between the Curia and the Commission as to what functionality its official publications should have, what its users' interests are, and what are the trade-offs when trying to achieve the right balance of speed, accessibility, reliability and that great proportionaliser, cost.
Curia and curiouser: law reports, authenticity and the Court of Justice Curia and curiouser: law reports, authenticity and the Court of Justice Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, March 31, 2011 Rating: 5


  1. A goodly rant, no doubt, my feline friends -- but how does the ECJ’s practice differ from those of the courts of England and Wales? On which, the Court of Appeal managed to tick off senior counsel in January of this very year in TW v A City Council [2011] EWCA Civ 17 – apparently not on Bailii - in the following terms (extracted from paras. 6-7 of the judgment):

    "6 The case also raises a discrete and quite separate point relating to authorities. We were provided with a bundle of authorities, only one of which was copied from a law report, the remainder being taken from the Bailii website. ….

    7…. We also draw attention to the note at 52.12.3 of the White Book 2010, which refers to section 8 of the Practice Statement (Supreme Court: Judgments) [1998] 1 WLR 825. For the avoidance of any doubt, however, we take this opportunity to remind the profession of the Practice Direction, and in particular of the following:—
    (d) that the relevant authorities should be copied from the official law reports, and only if not should reports from the All England Law Reports (All ER) or a specialist law report series be included. In addition, if a case is reported in volume 1 of the Weekly Law Reports that report should be used in preference to the report in the All ER. Bailii reports (with neutral citation numbers) should only be used if no other recognised reports are available and the case really needs to be cited…."

  2. That is not yet the best: the best is that the online version of the judgments may be better than the authentic version if mistakes are detected after the publication. The classic example is the Canon judgment with its famous definition of similar goods.

    “In assessing the similarity of the goods or services concerned, as the French and United Kingdom Governments and the Commission have pointed out, all the relevant factors relating to those goods or services themselves should be taken into account. Those factors include, inter alia, their nature, their end users [should read ‘intended purpose’] and their method of use and whether they are in competition with each other or are complementary.”


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