Poland challenges EU Copyright Directive
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There have been numerous changes relating to IP regulations in Poland. One of the most significant is the establishment of specialised IP courts.
The new law of February 13, 2020 on the amendment of the 1964 Polish Code of Civil Procedure and certain other acts introduces an additional chapter to the Code of Civil Procedure, dedicated to the proceedings in matters concerning IP.
The IP subject matter is defined broadly as including copyright, industrial property rights, protection against unfair competition and protection of personal rights in matters relating to advertising, individualisation on the market, and also to research and inventive activities.
In IP matters, representation by a professional representative (attorney, attorney-at-law or patent attorney) will be mandatory.
All IP cases are to be heard by district courts, with the district court in Warsaw having exclusive jurisdiction in “technical” matters related to computer programs, inventions, utility models, topographies of integrated circuits, plant varieties and protection of technical industrial secrets.
An upcoming implementing regulation is planned to establish specialised departments in at least four district courts (in Warsaw, Poznan, Lublin and Gdansk) and two appeal courts (in Warsaw and Poznan). The new departments are meant to have inter alia jurisdiction in matters of EU trademarks and Community designs.
Additionally, in IP matters, representation by a professional representative (attorney, attorney-at-law or patent attorney) will be mandatory, unless the amount in dispute is below 20,000 PLN ($4,741).
The latest amendment is entering into force on July 1, 2020. It remains to be seen what actual effects it will have. However, it is a very welcome and long-awaited response to the current needs, since the complexity of many IP cases was already the cause of many disputable issues before the Polish courts in the past.
The change in the civil procedure is just one, albeit grand, example of numerous developments relating to IP law. Last year there were several major amendments to key legal acts, including the Industrial Property Law Act itself. The aim of the most recent amendment is to bring the Polish procedures closer to the regulations of the European Patent Convention.
Some of the most significant changes, which have been in force since February 2020, include the following:
- Removal of the requirement of activity on matter: The claims no longer need to indicate “a technical method of acting on matter”. This requirement often caused problems before the Polish Patent Office, with computer-implemented inventions. Now it has been replaced with a more general requirement of indicating technical features of the invention, such as the actions and technical means of a method.
- Patent limitation procedure: Patent holders now have an opportunity to voluntarily limit the scope of protection. Moreover, this can be done at any point, including during opposition and invalidation proceedings (which may cause the opposition/invalidation proceedings to be joined with limitation proceedings or alternatively suspended).
- Simplification of opposition procedure: The period for filing an opposition against grant of a patent, utility model or an industrial design is still six months after publication of mention of grant, but the procedure is to be simpler (and hopefully faster), with just one examiner reassessing the case and all parties communicating in writing.
- No legal interest requirement in invalidation proceedings: Together with the changes in opposition procedure, the access to patent, utility model or industrial design invalidation proceedings is simplified by removing the necessity to demonstrate legal interest. This change is expected to also shorten the whole procedure, due to the fact that discussions on the presence of legal interest usually involved a large portion of the proceedings.
- New basis for invalidation: A patent may now be invalidated also based on lack of clarity or lack of support in the description.
- Changes in definition for a utility model: A utility model was defined previously as a novel and useful solution of a technical nature, relating to shape or construction of a durable assembly of an object. In the amended act, the term “useful” is replaced with “susceptible of industrial applicability” and the utility model may additionally be an object consisting of functionally linked durable parts which may be defined by repeatable components with set size ratios or even may be an object altering its shape when in use.
It is to be hoped that these changes bring more harmonisation to the Polish IP procedure. Their practical impact will be seen in the upcoming years.
Aleksandra Sołyga-Zurek is a Polish and European patent attorney at Patpol. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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