The COVID-19 outbreak is greatly affecting legal matters and company wellbeing. Some companies can no longer comply with their contractual obligations, while others have become financially distressed. To ensure that creditors do not make improper use of the measures available to collect a debt or ensure recourse, the question has arisen as to whether the courts should change the way in which they assess such measures.
In 2019 The Hague Court of Appeal overruled a first-instance court decision even though that court had followed an earlier German higher court decision based on the principle of loyalty under EU law. The Dutch judgment demonstrates that trademark law specifics can easily stand in the way of the EU principle of loyalty. It is also a useful reminder that, in the context of trademark infringement assessments, a trademark's level of distinctiveness is a substantial aspect, but one which can change due to evolving market circumstances.
The loading and unloading of cargo from ships is a key element in the transport chain. However, ships are sometimes damaged during these operations. This raises the question of whether – and on what grounds – a terminal operator can be successfully held liable for such damage. A recent Rotterdam District Court decision upheld the standard of liability established in Dutch case law, confirming that the burden of proof lies with the shipowner when it comes to demonstrating terminal operator liability.
The Amsterdam Court of Appeal recently rendered a landmark judgment that the claims brought by claim vehicle CDC against Kemira Chemicals Oy were not time barred. The court's judgment provides additional legal certainty in the field of private antitrust enforcement. If upheld before the Supreme Court, this ruling will set a new standard wherein (Dutch) courts will be able to extend or even set aside applicable limitation rules from national regimes in follow-on proceedings.
In preliminary proceedings, The Hague District Court recently assessed whether an injunction could be granted against an Irish director of a company based in Ireland in relation to a copyright infringement in the Netherlands. This judgment is a useful reminder that company directors who are not domiciled in the Netherlands can be liable under Dutch law on directors' liability when offering infringing products in the Netherlands.
The Supreme Court recently requested a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) concerning the competence of district courts in summary proceedings relating to EU Community designs. An immediate consequence of the ECJ's decision is that district courts other than the one in The Hague will be unable to provide provisional measures in cases relating to EU trademarks.
The Netherlands has always been at the forefront of the European Union in enabling collective redress for affected parties in mass damages cases. Since 1994, claims organisations have been able to pursue legal action on behalf of affected parties. However, the Civil Code prohibited claims organisations from pursuing damages claims. This practice has now changed significantly following the entry into force of the Act on the Resolution of Mass Claims in Collective Action.
The Hague District Court recently rendered a judgment regarding an inventor's failure to cooperate with the exploitation of his patents. The claimant had alleged that the defendant's refusal to cooperate with the transfer of the patent to a foundation (which would have subsequently granted the claimant a licence) had prevented it from exploiting the patent, including sub-licensing it to third parties.
Determining a court's jurisdiction in cross-border class actions involving pure financial damage has proven difficult in practice. This is particularly true when jurisdiction is based on the special competence rules set out in the recast EU Brussels Regulation. The Dutch Shareholders Association v British Petroleum is a good example of the confusion surrounding this matter. After two lower court rulings, the Dutch Supreme Court has applied to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling to gain further clarity.
The Netherlands has long been considered one of the most favourable jurisdictions in which to arrest a ship. A recent Aruba Court ruling is set to enhance this reputation by further liberalising the procedural rules, removing the need for a bailiff to board a ship in order to execute an arrest. The decision is expected to play a role in ship arrest cases throughout the Kingdom of the Netherlands where bad weather conditions, or even deliberate obstruction, may prevent bailiffs from boarding ships.
The international trade chamber of the Amsterdam District Court – known as the Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC) and the Netherlands Commercial Court of Appeal (NCCA) – allows parties to resolve international civil or commercial disputes and litigate in the English language, both in first instance (NCC) and appeal (NCCA). Depending on the circumstances of the case, the NCC and the NCCA may be attractive alternative forums to regular district courts, arbitration institutes and international commercial courts.
The District Court of Gelderland recently rendered a judgment on the subject of unauthorised agent or representative filings. It deemed that a third party was so closely involved in the distribution agreement between two other parties that it could be ordered to transfer the trademarks that it had registered unauthorised, despite the third party arguing that it could not be regarded as an agent, representative or distributor of the two other parties.
The Supreme Court recently issued a long-awaited decision on an architect's moral rights of paternity and integrity. In recent years, several Dutch judgments have considered whether architects can oppose changes to their original building designs. The Supreme Court's decision further clarifies that it is difficult for architects to do so where the changes are necessary to alter a building's function.
The Senate recently adopted the Bill on Redress of Mass Damages in Collective Actions (RMDCA). The RMDCA enables representative entities to claim monetary compensation on behalf of their constituents, which provides aggrieved parties with more effective means of redress. The RMDCA also introduces stricter requirements regarding the admissibility of representative entities and the scope of collective action proceedings, along with other procedural changes.
A recent Utrecht District Court decision sends a strong reminder to parties in the transport and logistics industry that they must be precise and clear about what they are agreeing to in dealings with their trading partners. While the less formal requirements for concluding an agreement under Dutch law seem to benefit the transport industry, this decision shows that there are pitfalls to be considered.
The Rotterdam District Court recently assumed jurisdiction over the international securities class action lawsuit against Petrobras Brasileiro SA and others in the Netherlands. The judgment offers valuable insight into how the Dutch courts assess jurisdiction in cross-border collective redress cases. It also illustrates that the Netherlands could act as a collective redress venue in matters relating to events that mainly take place in foreign jurisdictions.
The Hague District Court recently issued a preliminary ruling in which it held that Lacoste could not invoke its famous crocodile trademark in order to prohibit the use of a crocodile motif on children's underwear. This preliminary judgment is one of only a few examples in which the use of a sign has been considered purely decorative (and thus could not be perceived as trademark use). Typically, the courts are restrictive in accepting such a defence.
The Amsterdam Court of Appeal recently declared the settlement between Fortis (since renamed Ageas) and multiple claimant organisations binding. The €1.3 billion settlement is the largest of its kind to have been entered into in Europe. It emphasises the usefulness of the Act on Collective Settlement of Mass Claims when resolving cross-border disputes before the Dutch courts, irrespective of whether proceedings on the merits on behalf of the whole class can be litigated on in the Netherlands.
A recent decision by the Rotterdam Court regarding a major oil spill in the port of Rotterdam emphasises the importance of assessing at an early stage which liability regime applies when a party seeks to limit its exposure to claims in the event of an oil spill at sea. The court held that in procedures concerning limitation of liability, it is the responsibility of the party seeking to rely on limitation to provide all of the information available at an early stage.
The Hague District Court recently rendered an interim judgment in a matter between Dutch limited liability company McGregor IP BV and adidas. The key question in this case was whether adidas – in using the name of a sports hero on items such as hoodies, shorts and jerseys – had infringed McGregor IP's trademark rights. Notably, the outcome of this matter could have been different had the design and display of the signs at issue been different.