Enforcing foreign judgments – consultations

The Commonwealth government is participating in negotiations for a new Convention on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. Now it is seeking public input on a range of outstanding issues.

One of the general issues on which input is sought is the extent to which and the nature of problems experienced in trying to enforce a judgment in a foreign country.

Intellectual property issues are high on the list of matters being debated. Chapter 5 of the consultation paper is directed to intellectual property rights’ issues.

The issues include whether or not intellectual property rights should even be included in the judgments covered by the Convention. So draft article 2(m) proposes to exclude judgments about intellectual property rights from the Convention altogether; alternatively, articles 5 and 6 proceed on the basis that intellectual property rights are included. Which approach should it be?

If included, the basic idea is that a judgment on subsistence, ownership or infringement of an intellectual property right made by a Court in the country which granted the right could be enforceable under the proposed Convention to the extent that the judgment dealt with the subsistence, ownership and infringement of the right in that country.

It is proposed to treat judgments about the subsistence, ownership and infringement of registered rights granted by the country where the judgment is made as falling exclusively under the Convention. Judgments about unregistered rights, such as copyright and unregistered designs, would not be exclusive.

According to the consultation paper, one consequence of this arrangement would be that judgments involving “multi-state IP infringements” of registered rights will be enforceable under the Convention only to the extent that the judgment relates to infringements in the country/jurisdiction issuing the judgment.

No doubt for sound philosophical rationalising, trade secrets do not count as intellectual property rights under the draft Convention. Practically speaking from a business’ perspective, however, one might wonder why confidential information should be treated differently to unregistered “rights”.

Another area of issues raised in the consultation paper is the extent to which awards of damages, especially additional or exemplary or otherwise punitive damages, should be capable of enforcement under the Convention.

As the next (and possibly final) meeting of the commission preparing the draft for a Treaty conference is on 24 – 29 May 2018, the deadline for submissions is COB 27 April 2018.

Hague Conference Judgments Project: Recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments

Are you carrying on business in Australia by registering a trade mark here

If you need authority for the proposition that registering a trade mark, or enforcing the rights under the registration, does not necessarily mean you are carrying on business in Australia, Besanko J may help you out.

The ACCC sued Nexans SA and others alleging they were engaged in price fixing cartel.

Nexans SA is the global parent of the Nexans group. It had registered NEXANS in Australia as a trade mark. It had also licensed the trade mark to Nexans Australia, which was a member of the group, but not a direct subsidiary.

Besanko J rather sensibly stated at [282]:

…. I do not think the fact that the ultimate holding company of a large worldwide Group, insures all of the directors and officers of the companies comprising the Group means that the ultimate holding company is carrying on business within all the jurisdictions where companies in the Group are operating or is even a reasonably strong indication of that fact. The registration of trade marks in Australia by an overseas company could be an indication that the company is carrying on business in Australia, but, of course, it is only the beginning of the inquiry. The fact is that here there is a licence to Nexans Australia which (depending on the precise circumstances) may be considered to be an authorised user of the registered trade marks under s 8 of the Trade Marks Act. Nor do I think the fact that Nexans SA took action in this Court to protect its rights as owner of the registered trade marks indicates that it was carrying on business within Australia.

His Honour then explored other factors which in the end did lead to Nexans SA being held to carry on business in Australia. Ultimately, however, Besanko J did not consider it had engaged in the cartel behaviour, but another company, Prysmian, had.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Prysmian Cavi E Sistemi S.R.L. (No 12) [2016] FCA 82

Commonwealth can still sue on the undertaking as to damages

The High Court has refused Sanofi and Wyeth special leave to appeal the Commonwealth’s claims on the clopidogrel undertaking as to damages.

You may recall that, when Sanofi and Wyeth got interlocutory injunctions to stop Apotex entering the market with a clopidogrel product, Sanofi had to give the “usual undertaking as to damages“. The patents, however, were held invalid.

Sanofi and Apotex settled the latter’s claim for damages. However, the Commonwealth also brought a claim against Sanofi and Wyeth under the undertakings as to damages, in broad terms claiming as damages the difference between the (higher) price it paid under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme while the injunctions were in force and the lower price that would have applied if the interlocutory injunctions had not kept Apotex out of the market.

Last year, the Full Federal Court rejected Sanofi’s and Wyeth’s arguments that the Commonwealth could not bring a claim under the undertakings. Lauren John, an associate at Allens, reports that the High Court refused Sanofi’s application for special leave last week.

Links to the High Court dispositions here (Sanofi) and here (Wyeth). Ms John provides more detail here.

If you have a question or wish to make a comment, feel free to post it in the comments box or send me an email.

Section 155 notices

Under s 155 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, the ACCC can issue a notice to a person requiring them to provide information and answer questions. Failure to comply, or knowingly furnishing false or misleading information in response, is a criminal offence.

Natural Food Vending Pty Ltd was served with one such notice and failed to comply. Davies was its sole director and was convicted of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring that failure.

The Act provides for a maximum fine of 20 penalty units ($2200) or up to 12 months imprisonment. Reeves J considered that the particular offending in this case did not warrant a sentence of imprisonment. His Honour further considered that a fine, given Davies’ impecuniosity, would effectively lead to his imprisonment on his default. Accordingly, Reeves J has now sentenced Davies to 200 hours community service provided he does not commit another offence during the service period.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Davies (No 2) [2015] FCA 1290

A third case of extradition

The 1709 blog has a good summary of the arrest of Megaupload.com’s Kim “Dotcom” in New Zealand for allegedly copyrights in the USA.

Case 1 (Hew Griffiths aka ‘bandido’)

Case 2 (Richard O’Dwyer)

Meanwhile, some controversy is brewing because the FBI has seized the domain name and apparently blocked any access to the site even by those who have stored material legitimately in the service. Does that mean we all need to start worrying what will happen if our online back-up service is being used by alleged pirates too?

Enforcement of PBR in Australia

ACIP has published its final report into the Enforcement of plant breeder’s rights in Australia.

The report is here (pdf) – be warned 138pp, Exec Summary is 10pp.

Some recommendations:

 

Recommendation 1.

A new “purchase” right be added to s.11. This new right would only apply to those taxa that are specifically declared in the regulations. Industry sectors such as wheat breeders would apply to the PBR Office to have particular taxa so declared.

 

Recommendation 2.

The PBR Act be amended to clarify that harvested material that is also propagating material is to be considered as propagating material for the purposes of s.11, even if it is not being used for that purpose.

 

Recommendation 4.

There be no change to the operation of farmer’s privilege under s.17.

However, s.17 should be amended to state in easily understood terms that s.17 does not provide the farmer with the right to perform the acts listed in s.11(a) to (g). For example, the farmer will still require the PBR owner’s authorisation to sell the reproduced propagating material, the harvested material or the product of the harvested material.

Recommendation 5.

As part of IP Australia’s education and awareness programs, raise industry awareness of the opportunity under s.17(2) to have specific taxa excluded from the farmer’s privilege exemption.

Recommendation 6.

Encourage PBR owners to make clear to growers the conditions of sale of propagating material and their obligations in relation to future generations of it. This includes making clear that growers require the authorisation of the PBR owner to sell crops grown from farm-saved seed.

 

 

Recommendation 17.
Introduce an Information Notice system into the PBR Act based on the UK Information Notice system.
This would enable PBR owners to obtain information from suspected infringers on the
source of plant material. Where this is not supplied within a reasonable time, legal proceedings may be commenced in which the presumption is made that the plant material was obtained through unauthorised use of propagating material and that the PBR owner did not have a reasonable opportunity to exercise its rights in relation to the material.

Recommendation 14.

The jurisdiction of the second tier of the Federal Court of Australia to include PBR matters.

Appropriately qualified magistrates must be made available and there should be appropriate measures taken to ensure the processes of the second tier are faster and cheaper than in the first tier. Examples include simplifying and standardising procedures for expert evidence and DNA testing through the issuing practice notes, use of alternate dispute resolution where appropriate, and curtailing of the discovery phase.

Recommendation 12.

An on-going Expert Panel be established to provide guidance and opinions on general issues or specific cases concerning the PBR Act and related law. The Panel should comprise appropriate people with expertise in relevant areas who provide their services as required.

Upon request from any person and for a moderate fee, the Panel may provide detailed guidance and opinions on general issues or specific cases concerning the PBR Act and related law. The Panel should focus on the enforcement of granted rights and not provide advice on the registrability of individual applications for PBR. The Panel’s opinions should be made publicly available in a manner that respects commercially sensitive material. The Panel may refer matters to the Government or ACIP as it sees fit.

 

 

The USA, China and the WTO dispute

The dispute resolution panel’s decision in the USA’s complaint against China’s rules on enforcement, “Measures affecting the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights” (DS362) (background here) has been published.

There’s a range of commentary around the web.  The  IPKat reproduces the conclusions and, applying sophistaKatted Euro reading between the lines, scores it at 3-all.

Intellectual Property Watch’s summary here.  According to the USTR, the US won.

Not sure what has happened to the “market access” dispute?