IFA 2014 — courts are gearing up, as well again

This year’s IFA in Berlin is going to take place from 5 September 2014 to 10 September 2014. Exhibitors from all over the world will present their new products and will be keen to impress with innovation. However, in this context, it also regularly happens that the ideas of others are copied and own innova­tions are limited to reproduction.

Thus, every year the IFA is also a highlight for product piracy. Many exhibitors will even visit the IFA under the aspect of finding out whether other compe­titors reproduce their ideas too exactly and whether patents, design patents or utility patents are violated by such compe­titors. Cases of product counter­feiting are regularly disco­vered at the fair.

In such cases, it is necessary to react quickly. However, the usual proce­dures are too long in case of such viola­tions, because it may happen that the time is too short and the fair is already over before a written warning and an interlo­cutory injunction is issued. Therefore, in connection with fairs, very short time periods are accepted as being suffi­cient, and even courts adapt themselves to a higher amount of work and the necessary availability.

Recently the Landge­richt (District Court), for example, has advised that from 5 September 2014, in the office building in Litten­straße (Berlin Mitte), there will be a judicial on-call service for the protection of indus­trial property which will be taken care of by the 16th Civil Division. This division is one of the special divisions specia­lizing in the protection of indus­trial property, and it is staffed by the Judges Dr. Scholz (Presiding Judge), Ms. Klinger and Dr. Elfring. These judges almost exclu­sively deal with cases of protection of indus­trial property which comprise compe­tition law, trademark law, copyright, patent law, utility patent law and design patent law.

During the opening hours of the fair, these judges will be available for decisions on interlo­cutory injunc­tions, arrests and other urgent matters, i.e. until 06:00 p.m. The court, according to its own state­ments, will endeavour to process any legal document submitted as rapidly as possible, and also refers to the electronic commu­ni­cation channels in this regard.

The President of the District Court, Bernd Pickel, defines his own demand last year as follows: “To parti­ci­pants of innovative fairs, such as the Inter­na­tional Consumer Electronics Fair (IFA), it is important that a fair and regular compe­tition takes place during the event. Therefore, there is a parti­cu­larly strong demand for speedy legal protection. By offering a special daytime service, the District Court of Berlin helps to ensure that this legal protection becomes effective.“.

Not only the courts but also bailiffs will become incre­asingly active at the fair again, because the latter have to serve and, if required, enforce interlo­cutory injunc­tions on the one hand, and, in many cases, they have to enforce, by means of compulsory execution, claims which arose in the past, for example at IFA 2013, on the other hand. Thus, it may happen that visitors will come across empty exhibition areas at some booths this year again. We recommend our clients that, in case they discover product counter­feiting or trademark infrin­ge­ments at IFA, they react quickly so that all remedies can be fully exhausted and damage can be minimized.