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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.