Grau & Angulo
The firm offers legal representation in all areas of Intellectual Property to clients in the textile, fashion, mass consumer goods, high technology, pharmaceutical, sport and leisure, food and beverage, perfumery, IT/telecoms and luxury goods for whom Intellectual Property is an important asset of their business.Show more
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently issued a judgment confirming the invalidity of Gilead's supplementary protection certificate (SPC) for the combination of tenofovir disoproxil + emtricitabine, thus upholding a first-instance decision favourable to generic competitors Teva and Mylan. The matter has been followed in Europe, where the UK Patents Court referred a question to the Court of Justice of the European Union, which issued a judgment on the interpretation of the requirement under the EU SPC Regulation.
In light of the European Court of Justice's (ECJ's) decision in Cofemel, copyright protection for fashion designs is now more feasible in Spain. However, it remains to be seen how the Spanish courts (in particular, the Supreme Court) will apply the main teachings and caveats of this ECJ judgment in practice in the field of fashion.
The health crisis caused by the rapid spread of COVID-19 led to the approval and entry into force in Spain of Royal Decree 463/2020 on 14 March 2020, which declared a state of alarm. The situation led to the adoption of measures in the judicial and administrative areas. This article highlights the measures of interest for IP owners and practitioners that are adapting to the progressive changes in the situation.
Section 8 of the Alicante Court of Appeal, acting as the Community Design Court, recently confirmed the infringement of Jemella Limited's Community design which had previously been declared by the first-instance Community design court. The Community design in question protected the special shape of the well-known GHD IV Styler hair straightener.
Barcelona Commercial Court No 1 recently refused to grant a preliminary injunction requested by Sanofi against Mylan in relation to an insulin glargine biosimilar product. Sanofi had filed for a limitation of the patent claims in the main proceedings on the merits running parallel, but the court concluded that such an amended form of the patent could be neither asserted nor taken into account in the preliminary injunction proceedings, which had been initiated before based on the patent as granted.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal has confirmed a criminal sentence of six months' imprisonment, a fine and compensation of legal costs for the possession of 240 round bags which infringed the famous Robin Ruth Group design. The judgment follows from a trial court's decision to issue a condemnatory sentence based on Article 273.3 of the Criminal Code.
Barcelona Commercial Court No 6 recently dismissed an action for trademark infringement brought against Hilfiger Stores Spain, SL and upheld its counterclaim, declaring partial revocation for non-use of the plaintiff's Spanish trademark registered for clothing, footwear and hats (Class 25) and leaving it registered exclusively for occasion hats and women's formal party hats.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently issued two decisions confirming the refusal of the preliminary injunctions that AstraZeneca had requested to prevent the commercialisation of fulvestrant generics by Teva and ratiopharm for alleged infringement of AstraZeneca's patents. The court confirmed the refusal by concluding that there was not enough urgency, whereas serious doubt remained over the validity of the patents at stake.
A new edition of the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world's largest and most important event in the mobile communications industry, will be held in Barcelona from 24 to 27 February 2020. Foreseeing possible conflicts that may exist between the participating companies, a specific protocol of guard service and fast action will be adopted to protect (among other things) technology patents, industrial designs and trademarks in relation to products and materials which are on display at the MWC.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal, following European Court of Justice case law regarding the exhaustion of the trademark rights, recently declared that Red Paralela SL and Red Paralela BCN SL had infringed Schweppes International Limited's Spanish trademarks by importing and commercialising in Spain Schweppes-branded tonics which had been manufactured in the United Kingdom by Coca-Cola/Atlantic Industries, the owner of the UK SCHWEPPES trademarks.
In July 2019 the Oviedo Court of Appeal confirmed a trial court decision which had found the defendant guilty of copyright infringement, sentenced him to six months' imprisonment and ordered him to pay the plaintiff's court costs and damages of an amount to be determined during the enforcement of the sentence on grounds of civil liability. In reaching its decision, the court highlighted the multiple contradictions in the defendant's allegations and confirmed the value of the evidence.
A recent European Court of Justice judgment is good news for EU designers as it confirms what has already been stated by some Spanish courts – namely, that a design need not have artistic merit, aesthetic value or a particular visual attraction to qualify for copyright protection. Although the judgment was issued in response to a ruling by the Portuguese courts, it will undoubtedly have clear consequences throughout the European Union. This article examines the decision in view of the Spanish legal framework.
The Madrid Court of Appeal recently confirmed a Madrid Trial Court Number 11 decision which had sentenced a Spanish resident of Chinese origin to five months' imprisonment for the possession of 9,317 counterfeit items of clothing – including t-shirts which infringed FC Barcelona's IP rights – for commercial purposes. The appeal court also confirmed the trial court's order of a fine, additional penalties, civil liability payments and compensation for legal costs.
Grifols, SA filed a lawsuit before the Barcelona courts against Algoritmos Procesos y Diseños, SA (APD) for infringement of a patent which protected a blister pack handling machine. Once the lawsuit was admitted, APD filed a declinatory plea due to lack of territorial jurisdiction. However, the court rejected APD's plea and pointed out that this was a case of forum choosing (rather than forum shopping) which illustrates the importance of patent owners' right to choose.
Valencia Criminal Court Number 15 recently convicted the managers of a company operating in the souvenir industry for a crime against IP rights in accordance with the Criminal Code. In its decision, the court rejected the defendants' allegations of defencelessness, deeming that both the objective and subjective elements of Article 273 of the Criminal Code had been met based on the expert report and the raid conducted against the defendants in 2009.
The Supreme Court recently declared a Madrid Court of Appeal judgment to be final, confirming the cancellation of Carrefour's CONTINENTE trademarks and recognising Modelo's right to register and use its CONTINENTE mark in Spain. The decision supports the previous case law criterion that protection cannot be sought for trademarks which are no longer used on the market.
In order to better understand the usefulness of protective briefs, this article examines some recent cases that show that protective briefs can, in certain cases, reduce or even eliminate the risk of an ex parte preliminary injunction and the inconveniences associated therewith.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently revoked a judgment which had dismissed all of the claims filed by the owner and licensee of the MUSTELA trademark against its former distributor and various other companies. Notably, the court stated that EU doctrine and Spanish case law provide for an exception to the exhaustion of trademark rights principle with regard to luxury trademarks. However, this does not rule out the application of this exception to other trademarks in particular selective distribution cases.
In March 2019 the Copyright Act was amended to bring Spanish copyright law into line with that of the European Union. In addition, the reform has reinforced the rights of authors and publishers, introduced new regulations on the functioning of collecting societies in order to increase the transparency and control of their operations in favour of authors and strengthened the regulations on combating piracy.
The Supreme Court recently rejected the extraordinary appeals filed by Pfizer against a Barcelona Court of Appeal judgment, confirming the dismissal of a patent infringement action against sildenafil generics competitors in Spain. This decision represents the end of a long battle regarding the interpretation of Articles 27 and 70 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and their alleged impact on the prohibition on patent chemical and pharmaceutical products as such.
Section 8 of the Alicante Provincial Court (acting as the EU Trademark Court) recently dismissed Equivalenza Retail, SL's appeal against the Alicante Commercial Court Number 2 judgment in which it had been sentenced for infringing various perfume trademarks owned by Hugo Boss, Gucci and Lacoste in the context of its smell-alike business. Equivalenza had used the trademarks both in comparison lists and orally in commercial speech.
The Valencia Court of Appeal, acting as a trial court, recently sentenced two defendants to one-and-a-half years in prison for importing thousands of pairs of counterfeit shoes for commercial purposes. The court also ordered the defendants to pay a fine, procedural costs and damages and destruction costs. This is one of the first judgments to be issued by an appeal court acting as a trial court in an IP criminal case.
In December 2018 the EU Trademark Court of Appeal declared that the Ibiza Beach drink marketed by Productos Ibicencos, SL and Aromáticas de Ibiza, SL – whose bottle was highly similar to the well-known Malibu bottle – infringed The Absolut Company AB's (TAC's) 3D and graphic trademarks which protect the shape of such bottle. Among other things, the court held that the defendants had taken unfair advantage of TAC's trademarks, as their product was very similar in appearance.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently confirmed the Barcelona Commercial Court Number 5 decision which had declared two Nestlé patents to be valid and infringed by Fast Eurocafé SA. Considering the importance of the Nescafé Dolce Gusto system for Nestlé and the increased interest among competitors in commercialising compatible capsules, this judgment is of paramount importance.
Barcelona Commercial Court Number 4 recently dismissed a patent infringement action brought by Mundipharma against two generics of its oxycodone and naloxone medicinal product for the treatment of pain (Targin) and upheld the defendants' counterclaim that the asserted patent was invalid. Among other things, the court held that the patent's claims amounted to an inadmissible generalisation because they omitted essential elements of the invention as disclosed in the application as filed.
The Arenys de Mar Trial Court Number 1 recently convicted the defendant in a case involving handbags which infringed a Robin Ruth Group (RRG) design for a crime against intellectual property. Notably, in May 2013 the defendant had signed a settlement agreement with the RRG following the seizure of hundreds of products which infringed other RRG designs in which it had undertaken not to infringe in future either those designs or any other designs owned by the RRG.
The next Mobile World Congress (MWC) will be held in Barcelona in February 2019. Foreseeing potential conflicts between the participating companies, the panel of judges of the Barcelona commercial courts has agreed – for the fifth consecutive year – to adopt a specific protocol to protect technology patents, industrial designs, trademarks and copyright and defend against unfair competition and unlawful advertising acts in relation to products and materials which are displayed at the MWC.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently confirmed the revocation of the preliminary injunction granted ex parte at the request of Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) for the alleged infringement of its NuvaRing patent. The court confirmed that an assessment of disputed facts in this context does not require certainty, but rather probability. Therefore, MSD's appeal was deemed to be groundless as it alleged an infringement of the rules of the burden of proof, which – in reality – did not apply.
In October 2018 the EU Trademark Court Number 1 of Alicante granted the interim injunction application filed by Xiaomi Inc against Blablatel Mobile SL for trademark infringement due to the parallel import of technological products from outside the European Economic Area. This decision is notable, as it confirms that importing goods that were originally intended to be marketed outside the European Economic Area without the trademark owner's consent constitutes trademark infringement.
In a recent case, Barcelona Commercial Court Number 2 declared that teleshopping ads broadcast by the defendant had infringed the copyright in similar ads created by the plaintiffs. This was an unusual case, as the claim relied on proving the statutory required level of originality for a creation to be copyrightable and the plagiarism of the pre-existing works in a particularly active sector.
The Ministry of Culture and Sports recently fined a website owner under the Consolidated Text of the IP Act for allowing users to download various copyrighted content from Spain. Although several similar websites had been taken down prior to this case, this was the first time that an economic fine of this magnitude was imposed. The main reason for this was that the administrative infringement in this case was classified as 'very severe'.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently confirmed a trial court judgment which had sentenced the defendant for a crime against intellectual property in accordance with the Criminal Code. For more than 15 years, the infringer had commercialised various products featuring the FC Barcelona trademarks, which he acquired from an official licensee. However, in 2013 the defendant had also begun commercialising illicitly traded products alongside the genuine products.
Preliminary draft Trademark Act approved: declarations of invalidity and cancellations of registered signsSpain | 05 November 2018
The Council of Ministers recently approved a preliminary draft law which will partially amend the Trademark Act in order to incorporate the EU Trademark Directive. Ahead of the parliamentary approval procedure, various consulting bodies provided their opinions on the draft text. In this regard, the Economic and Social Council and the General Council of the Judiciary both highlighted certain aspects of the preliminary draft law which they believe could be improved.
Barcelona Commercial Court Number 5 recently dismissed a preliminary injunction request filed by Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) regarding the commercialisation of generic medicinal products. The defendants had opposed the request by alleging the invalidity of MSD's supplementary protection certificate (SPC) on the basis that it was invalid according to the EU SPC for Medicinal Products Regulation.
The Zaragoza Court of Appeal recently issued a ruling confirming a trial court judgment which had sentenced two defendants for importing several thousand counterfeit t-shirts from China. In their appeal against the trial court's condemnatory judgment, the defendants had argued that the trial court erred in assessing the evidence, that there had been a break in the custody chain of the seized goods, that one of the defendants had not participated in the importation and that there had been no consumer error.
The Madrid Court of Appeal (Section 28) recently confirmed the dismissal of a patent infringement action filed by PERI GmbH against Spanish company Sistemas Técnicos de Encofrados (STEN). The court held that a patent's scope of protection is determined by its claims and that the patent description and drawings must be considered in an interpretation of the claims. In light of this, the court concluded that STEN's scaffolding did not infringe PERI's patent.
The Barcelona Commercial Court Number 4 recently dismissed a patent infringement action brought by Novartis against the first generics in Spain of its valsartan and amlodipine medicinal product for the treatment of hypertension. The court upheld the defendants' counterclaim for invalidity of the asserted patent. Novartis has appealed this decision before the Barcelona Court of Appeal.
Appeal court confirms revocation of ex parte preliminary injunctions against oxycodone/naloxone genericsSpain | 11 June 2018
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently issued two decisions confirming the Barcelona Commercial Court Numbers 1 and 4 rulings revoking the preliminary injunctions that they had granted ex parte at Mundipharma's request against the first generics in Spain of its oxycodone/naloxone medicinal product for the treatment of pain. In its decisions, the Barcelona Court of Appeal concluded that Mundipharma's patent was prima facie invalid due to added subject matter, as argued by the defendants.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently dismissed the writ of appeal filed by an online seller of counterfeit shoes against a trial court judgment, confirming the judgment in its entirety. Notably, the trial court had applied the damages criterion provided for in Article 43.2.b of the Trademark Act as opposed to that provided for in Article 43.2.a, which is more commonly applied in criminal cases and comprises the profits which a trademark owner would have made had a counterfeiting offence not occurred.
Foreseeing possible conflicts between the companies participating in the Mobile World Congress 2018, the Barcelona commercial courts adopted a specific protocol to protect technology patents, industrial designs, trademarks and copyright and defend against unfair competition and unlawful advertising acts in relation to products and materials displayed at the event. The judges recently issued a report regarding the protocol's application, results and implementation, as well as the proposals to be made in this regard.
Barcelona Commercial Court Number 5 recently revoked a preliminary injunction which had been granted ex parte at the request of Merck Sharp & Dohme BV (MSD) for alleged patent infringement. This case is notable, as the defendants' product – which is the first competitor of MSD's contraceptive vaginal ring, NuvaRing – is manufactured in Spain and sold in several European countries where other patent infringement proceedings are being prosecuted in parallel.
The Supreme Court recently confirmed the revocation of the collective trademark BARCELONA due to its lack of distinctiveness. The Supreme Court confirmed the Catalonia High Court of Justice's judgment that the trademark contravened its required function as a collective trademark (ie, the identification of the business origin of goods and services). The trademark also contravened the protected goods' guarantee function, as its registration had indiscriminately been sought in all classes of the Nice Classification.
Commercial court upholds Nestlé's infringement action of its patents relating to Nescafé Dolce Gusto capsulesSpain | 19 February 2018
In January 2016 Nestlé filed a patent infringement action with a preliminary injunction motion against Fast Eurocafé, which had imported, offered and sold capsules for a beverage compatible with Nestlé's well-known Nescafé Dolce Gusto system. Last month, Barcelona Commercial Court Number 5 upheld Nestlé's patent infringement action against Fast Eurocafé, declaring that claims must be interpreted according to their descriptions.
The next Mobile World Congress will be held in Barcelona from February 26 to March 1 2018. Foreseeing possible conflicts between the companies participating in the event, the Barcelona commercial courts have agreed to adopt a specific protocol which contains effective measures to protect technology patents, industrial designs, trademarks and copyright and defend against unfair competition and unlawful advertising acts in relation to products and materials which are displayed at the event.
In 2017 the EU Trademark Regulation and the Spanish Patents Act entered into force. Both pieces of legislation have affected EU trademark and Community design litigation in Spain, including by extending the deadline to respond to EU trademark and Community design claims and extending the exclusive competence of EU Trademark Courts 1 and 2 of Alicante, among other changes.
A much debated issue among Spanish legal practitioners concerns which party should be held responsible for the costs associated with storing and destroying IP infringing goods which are the object of judicial proceedings. There have been contradictory judgments in criminal proceedings. Recently, some logistics companies have tried to apply this discussion to other jurisdictions.
Barcelona Commercial Court Number 4 recently lifted the preliminary injunctions that it had previously granted ex parte at the request of Gilead against Mylan and Teva for the alleged imminent infringement of Gilead's supplementary protection certificate (SPC) for the combination of tenofovir disoproxil and emtricitabine. The defendants successfully opposed the preliminary injunctions, alleging the invalidity of the SPC and invoking the applicable European Court of Justice case law.
The Catalonia High Court of Justice recently revoked a Spanish Patent and Trademark Office decision which had granted the registration of an industrial design featuring an image of the Camp Nou stadium. The court considered that the alleged ground for refusal to be assessed was whether the design included the prior trademarks owned by Futbol Club (FC) Barcelona. It concluded that the design's registration would lead to a paradox, as the owner could contest FC Barcelona's use of its own image.
The Supreme Court recently acknowledged a US company's legal standing to file claims on the basis of Articles 13 (trade secret infringement) and 14 (misuse of an industrial or business secret) of the Unfair Competition Act. The Supreme Court's interpretation has favourably clarified that active foreign companies doing business in Spain have legal standing to sue for certain acts of unfair competition.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently upheld the appeal filed by Sistemas Técnicos de Encofrados, SA against a Barcelona Commercial Court Number 4 order, in which PERI GmbH had successfully opposed the exception of lis pendens (ie, a pending legal action) on the principle of preclusion provided for in the Civil Procedural Act. The court ruled that a rigid and inflexible interpretation of the act, as intended by PERI, is contrary to the right to effective judicial protection provided for by the Constitution.
Barcelona courts lift preliminary injunctions previously granted ex parte in oxycodone/naloxone caseSpain | 02 October 2017
Through two recent decisions, Barcelona Commercial Court Number 4 and Barcelona Commercial Court Number 1 lifted the preliminary injunctions that they had previously granted ex parte in relation to the imminent market launch of two oxycodone/naloxone generic medicinal products. This is the first time that a preliminary injunction has been revoked or refused in Spain based on indicia of invalidity of the asserted patent due to added matter.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently confirmed a first-instance decision which had dismissed the patent infringement action filed by Novartis against several generics for alleged infringement of its European patent relating to a therapeutic transdermal system for the administration of rivastigmine. In its decision, the court reiterated the importance of interpreting a claim in light of the description of the patent, which in this case clearly supported the defendants' understanding of its scope.
In 2013 Teva Pharma, SLU and ratiopharm España, SA filed a revocation action challenging the validity of an EU patent due to lack of novelty and an inventive step. In 2015 the Barcelona Commercial Court Number 5 found in the plaintiffs' favour and revoked the relevant patent claims due to lack of an inventive step. The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently confirmed the first-instance decision in its entirety.
In January 2016 Nestlé filed a patent infringement action with a preliminary injunction motion against Fast Eurocafé, which had imported, offered and sold capsules for a beverage compatible with Nestlé's well-known Nescafé Dolce Gusto system. Barcelona Commercial Court Number 5 dismissed Nestlé's preliminary injunction motion, holding that the urgency requirement had been undermined. The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently revoked the commercial court's order and granted a preliminary injunction.
In 2016 Novartis sued several companies for the alleged infringement of its EU patent and sought preliminary injunctions to prevent the imminent launch of their valsartan and amlodipine generics. Barcelona Commercial Court Number 4 granted ex parte preliminary injunctions against some of the defendants in December 2016 and January 2017. However, on the defendants' opposition, the court recently revoked the preliminary injunctions.
The new Patents Act, which recently came into force, aims to modernise the Spanish patent system and bring it further into line with EU and international legal frameworks. One of the most notable amendments regarding patent litigation is the introduction and regulation of protective letters in Spain for the first time. As of April 2017, protective letters will be accepted by all competent courts handling patent cases.
Distinctive signs are principally governed by the Trademark Act (17/2001), which replaced the former Trademark Act (32/1988) and was complemented by Royal Decree 687/2002. In 2006 the Trademark Act was further amended by Act 19/2006, which implemented the EU IP Enforcement Directive (2004/48/EC). Civil actions for trademark infringement are comprehensively covered in the Trademark Act, while criminal actions for infringement are defined in the Criminal Code.
The General Council of the Judiciary's agreement which exclusively assigned competence to hear IP matters that arise under the Patent Act 24/2014, the Trademark Act 17/2001 and the Industrial Design Act 20/2003 to certain commercial courts in Catalonia, Madrid and Valencia was recently published in the Official State Bulletin. The agreement has accomplished the long-awaited consolidation of the Spanish commercial courts' specialisations in IP matters.
Barcelona Commercial Court Number 7 recently dismissed in its entirety Niled SAE's and Ridelin's action against Sofamel SL which required Sofamel to cease the manufacture and commercialisation of its TTGA terminals, claiming that they constituted a slavish copy of Niled's TTP terminals and infringed the specific Ridelin patents for which Niled claimed to be the exclusive licensee. The court based this decision on Niled's TTP terminals' lack of competitive singularity.
Barcelona Commercial Court 4 recently dismissed a preliminary injunction motion filed by medac against Accord in a patent case regarding a particular formulation of the active ingredient methotrexate. The court analysed the patent's inventive step using the cited prior art and concluded that it would have been obvious to a person skilled in the art to optimise the volume of the injection in order to reduce pain by increasing the drug concentration.
A 2014 Tarragona Court of Appeal decision marked a radical departure from the court's former jurisprudence regarding the consumer error theory. Section 16 of the Madrid Court of Appeal and Section 1 of the Lleida Court of Appeal recently followed this trend by maintaining a favourable stance towards the principle that in order to classify a wilful act of trademark counterfeiting as a criminal offence, the end consumer must have been deceived while purchasing the counterfeit product.
Barcelona Commercial Court Number 4 recently dismissed an action filed against several generic drug companies which alleged infringement of two patents claiming manufacturing processes for the active ingredient drospirenone. The court upheld the defendants' arguments and held that when determining the scope of protection conferred by a patent, claims must be interpreted in light of the patent's description.
Registered trademarks that are cancelled due to non-use in the market should not prevent rights holders of a subsequently registered mark from using it in the same market, as this is not considered to be an infringement of IP rights or an act of unfair competition. In a recent case, the Madrid Court of Appeal recognised a company's right to use its registered CONTINENTE trademark after confirming the cancellation of CONTINENTE trademarks that had previously been registered in the same sector.
The Constitutional Court recently upheld in part an action challenging the constitutionality of certain taxes relating to the administration of justice, including those which must be paid in civil and contentious administrative proceedings regarding IP matters. The court considered that the disproportionate values of the taxes violated the fundamental right of citizens to effective judicial protection and deterred them from turning to the courts to exercise this right.
Barcelona Commercial Court Number 1 recently upheld Martin Lloveras SA's claim against Sollich KG in its entirety and nullified Sollich's patent for its lack of inventive step. The decision was reached following the European Patent Office's method for analysing inventive step, which includes determining the closest prior art, establishing the objective technical problem and assessing whether the claimed invention would have been obvious to a skilled person.
Appeal court confirms that use of names similar to well-known ORANGE trademarks constitutes infringementSpain | 24 October 2016
The EU Trademark Court recently confirmed a judgment declaring that the use of a mark as well as corporate and domain names that were similar to the plaintiff's well-known ORANGE trademarks constituted infringement. The court held that the appellant had failed to prove that it had used its names before the registered marks became well known in Spain.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal has issued a judgment confirming the dismissal of a patent infringement action filed by Pfizer against sildenafil generic competitors in Spain. Pursuant to its October 2014 decision in the Escitalopram case, the appeal court has now confirmed its new case law regarding the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of IP Rights and pharmaceutical patents filed before October 8 1992.
The General Council of the Judiciary recently reallocated exclusive competence for IP matters – particularly trademark and unfair competition matters – among the various Barcelona commercial courts. The reallocation means that more commercial courts will handle IP-related cases, which is a further step towards the specialisation of the Barcelona commercial courts in IP matters.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has resolved the request for a preliminary ruling raised by the Spanish Supreme Court regarding the compatibility of the Spanish system of fair compensation for private copying financed by the general state budget with EU Directive 2001/29/EC. The ECJ found the Spanish system contrary to EU law since it was impossible to ensure that the cost of this compensation was borne by the users of private copies.
The Supreme Court recently dismissed AstraZeneca's extraordinary appeals and confirmed the nullity in Spain of a European patent regarding sustained release formulations of quetiapine, which protected the blockbuster anti-psychotic drug commercialised by AstraZeneca as Seroquel Prolong®.
The Supreme Court has dismissed La Vallesana and Deva's extraordinary appeals for procedural infringement and cassation against a Barcelona Court of Appeal judgment which dismissed the invalidity of Cointreau's International Trademark 553.499, as claimed by the two companies. The appellants claimed that Cointreau's 'naked bottle' mark lacked distinctiveness and had not been used.
Two recent Alicante Community Trademark Court No 2 judgments have confirmed that the use of a well-known third-party mark as a corporate name or as a domain name constitutes trademark infringement. In both cases, the court took into consideration the use of the infringing names – including whether they had been put to real and genuine use – and ordered the infringing parties to modify them or face dissolution.
Madrid Commercial Court Number 8 recently dismissed a preliminary injunction by Actelion against Accord, Sandoz and Kern in a patent case regarding the drug bosentan. The defendants argued that Actelion could not request a preliminary injunction as Barcelona Commercial Court Number 1 had dismissed a previous motion. The Madrid court agreed with the defendants, as there had been no relevant change in circumstances.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently confirmed a previous decision of Barcelona Commercial Court No 4, which dismissed a product-by-process patent infringement action filed by Oatly AB against Liquats Vegetals, SA, manufacturer and retailer of oat milk, and certain of its clients. The court stated that, in regard to a product-by-process claim, it was unreasonable to resolve the infringement case in a different way from the validity case.
Due to the intense competitiveness of the mobile communications sector, industrial or intellectual property rights infringements can sometimes arise. In light of this, the Barcelona Commercial Courts have adopted a protocol for exhibitors at this month's Mobile World Congress that suspect infringement of their rights.
The La Coruna Court of Appeal has upheld a first-instance decision sentencing the owner of around 10,000 items of clothing bearing well-known trademarks, used without the holders' consent, which had been seized in its warehouse. The first-instance decision included a prison sentence, a fine and – with respect to civil liability – the payment of damages to the holders of the infringed trademarks.
The Valencia Court of Appeal recently fully upheld a judgment issued by Valencia Trial Court 8 sentencing the managing director of a company for trademark infringement as set out in Article 274 of the Criminal Code, and also sentenced the company for the damages caused.
A recent Alicante Court of Appeal decision is the first time since the landmark European Court of Justice L'Oreal v Bellure judgment that a Spanish appeal court has ruled extensively on the practice of using a third party's perfume trademark to market an allegedly smell-alike perfume. The court found such acts to be unlawful due to trademark infringement and unfair competition.
The new Patent Act (24/2015) was recently published and will come into force in 2017. The purpose of the new act is to modernise the Spanish patent system and bring it further into line with EU and international legal frameworks. The new act makes substantive examination a mandatory requirement for patent registration and amends patent litigation practice in various ways.
The Supreme Court recently revoked a previous decision of the Burgos Court of Appeal and declared the invalidity of Richter Gedeon's European patent which claimed a single dose of 1.5 milligrams of levonorgestrel and its use as an emergency contraceptive. This appears to be the first time that the Supreme Court has revoked a European patent by reversing a previous appeal decision.
A Barcelona commercial court has dismissed a preliminary injunction motion by Warner-Lambert and Pfizer against generics in a patent case regarding pregabalin (Lyrica). The court found no evidence of alleged patent infringement because pregabalin generics cannot be prescribed or dispensed off label, whereas Pfizer's product Lyrica is the only pregabalin drug which can be prescribed and dispensed to treat pain.
A Barcelona court recently dismissed a patent infringement action brought by Novartis against several companies which sell generics of its rivastigmine patches for the treatment of Alzheimer's. The court rejected Novartis's broad interpretation of the claim of its European patent and found that the defendants' products did not infringe it.
The Barcelona Commercial Court No 1 recently dismissed a preliminary injunction motion in a fenofibrate patent case. Abbott had applied for a preliminary injunction against Kern Pharma for alleged infringement of European patents EP1275387 and EP2050445. However, the court found no infringement of the first patent and indications that the second patent was invalid.
Section 15 of the Barcelona Court of Appeal has partially upheld an appeal declaring that the plaintiff's trademark be cancelled for lack of use and that the defendant's trademark was invalid. However, it also found that the plaintiff's revoked trademark had been infringed by the defendant. The case involved a trademark for goods in Class 25, which covers clothing, footwear and headgear.
The Supreme Court recently dismissed Lundbeck's extraordinary appeals in a patent infringement case regarding escitalopram, the blockbuster anti-depressant commercialised by Lundbeck as Cipralex. In its decision the court stated that the obviousness analysis is not necessarily the same when assessing validity (inventive step) and infringement under the doctrine of equivalents.
The Alicante Community Trademark Court No 2 has upheld a suit filed by Carolina Herrera Limited, Puig France SAS, Gaulme SAS and Antonio Puig SA – all part of Spanish perfume and fashion group PUIG – against the Saphir Group and a supermarket chain which offered for sale and marketed perfumes under the brands Saphir, Caravan and IAP, which allegedly smelled like perfumes identified with the plaintiffs' well-known trademarks.
Alicante Commercial Court No 2, acting as the Community Trademark Court, recently declared the validity of the Spanish trademark HOTEL CATALONIA SAGRADA FAMILIA, and its full compatibility with the earlier Community trademark HOTEL SAGRADA FAMILIA. Both marks referenced Sagrada Familia, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and Barcelona's most popular monument.
The Barcelona Commercial Court No 5 recently declared the inefficacy in Spain of various product claims of European Patent 0387077, the basic patent on the drug paricalcitol (Zemplar). Among other things, the judgment confirmed that claim 24 of the patent was affected by the Spanish reservation to the European Patent Convention, as it was not a Swiss-type use claim but rather a product claim.
The Valencia Court of Appeal recently sentenced a defendant responsible for the import of counterfeit components and accessories for PlayStation video games. The defendant was responsible for at least seven previous imports involving the retention of counterfeit products by Customs. As the defendant was a regular importer, the appeal court held that the reduced penalty included in the Criminal Code did not apply in this case.
The Supreme Court has departed from its previous doctrine regarding the enforcement of national and international trademarks against third parties owning later trademarks. A mark owner can now prohibit third parties from using its mark or a similar mark in the trade, regardless of whether they hold a later registered trademark – the later mark need no longer be declared invalid first.
Section 8 of the Alicante Court of Appeal, in its capacity as the Community Trademark Court of Appeal, has partially confirmed the position of Mattel Inc against Erjutoys, SL in a case involving trademark and design infringement and unfair competition. The case centred around Mattel's Community trademarks and designs for its MONSTER HIGH dolls.
A new act has come into force which reforms the consolidated text of the Copyright Act, as well as a particular provision of the Civil Procedure Act. The main purpose of the reform is to adapt the Spanish IP legislation to the social, economic and technological changes of recent years, and to bring it into line with EU law.
The Tarragona Court of Appeal recently issued a ruling which marks a radical departure from its former jurisprudence on the consumer error theory. Previously, the court had held that consumer error should exist in order for intentional counterfeiting to merit a criminal penalty. However, the ruling could mark the start of a move towards the abandonment of this theory.
Section 15 of the Barcelona Court of Appeal, which specialises in IP cases, recently upheld the validity of the ABSENTA BAR trademark, which had been challenged by the owner of a local traditional business called Absenta Bar. The invalidation action was based on bad-faith registration and likelihood of confusion, on the grounds that the name of the business was a prior well-known unregistered mark.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently confirmed a first-instance decision to invalidate a trademark registered by a Spanish distributor without the consent of the legitimate owner, the holder of a prior Chinese trademark. In its decision, the appeal court reaffirmed that the concept of 'agent or representative' set out in Article 10 of the Trademarks Act must be interpreted broadly.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently confirmed the dismissal of a patent infringement action filed by Lundbeck and Almirall against all of the companies commercialising escitalopram generics in Spain. The decision signals a radical change in Spanish case law regarding the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of IP Rights and pharmaceutical patents.
The Administrative Litigation Chamber (Section Four) of the Supreme Court has sought a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice regarding the compatibility of the procedure established in Royal Decree 1657/2012 for paying compensation for private copying under EU law. If the system is found to be contrary to EU law, it will be declared void with erga omnes (towards all) effect.
Barcelona Commercial Court No 1 has upheld a lawsuit filed by Marina Calafat SL against Calafat SA for the invalidation of trademarks and dismissed the infringement counterclaim for infringement brought by Calafat. The court found that Calafat had registered the marks in the knowledge that the sign was used by Marina Calafat and with the purpose of obstructing that use.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal has confirmed that the final revocation by the European Patent Office of a patent which was being asserted in ongoing infringement proceedings in Spain meant that the infringement action had to be dismissed, rather than the litigation simply being terminated because the patent in suit no longer existed.
The Barcelona Commercial Court No 2 has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Fotoprix, SA against Vistaprint España, SL for infringement of the trademarks FOTOLIBRO and FOTOPRIX and for unfair competition. The court also upheld the counterclaim for partial invalidity and partial cancellation of the FOTOLIBRO trademark brought by Vistaprint against Fotoprix in the same proceedings.