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.