April 4, 2018
The Supreme Court of Finland has ruled that there is no criminal liability for infringement of an EU Trade Mark or a Registered Community Design. The case was about counterfeit products which were imported to Finland. The products were protected with EU trademarks and design rights. The judgment was handed down on 26 April 2018.
According to the Supreme Court, the Finnish Criminal Code does not specifically state that an infringement of EU trademarks and design rights would be criminally sanctioned. Only certain national rights have been mentioned. Therefore, on the grounds of the principle of legality, the Court ruled that an infringement of EU trademarks and design rights cannot constitute a criminal liability for an industrial rights offence. The Court did not change this conclusion even though other sources of law were also reviewed.
“This is a significant ruling for brand owners. At the moment, EU trademarks and design rights do not enjoy the same level of protection in Finland as corresponding national rights do. Thus, this issue must be taken into account with cases regarding counterfeit products”, comments IP Lawyer Maria Ojala.
The revised Finnish Trademark Act will enter into force in 2019. A working group has already proposed an amendment to the Finnish Criminal code to fix this problem for EU trademarks. However, for unknown reason, the proposal does not include Registered Community Designs.
“This deficiency is one thing we need to bring out in our statement on the proposed amendments”, says European Trademark and Design Attorney Jani Kaulo, who is a member of the working group preparing the statement from the Association of Finnish Patent Attorneys to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment on the amendments.
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