mercredi, juillet 07, 2010

Sur l'acceptation par le locataire du nouveau loyer du bail renouvelé

Le paiement sans réserve et contre facture du nouveau loyer du bail renouvelé proposé par le bailleur établit l’acceptation par le locataire des conditions de renouvellement du bail et lui interdit toute contestation ultérieure portant sur le montant de ce nouveau loyer.

 

Sources : Cass., 3e chambre civile, 2 février 2010, pourvoi n° 09-65084, aff. SCI Olfran c/ SA Zara France

 

mardi, juillet 06, 2010

United Arab Emirates: Opposition practice and procedure: new hearings officer, same procedural traps

Opposition practice and procedure: new hearings officer, same procedural traps

Contributed by Clyde & Co


The UAE Trademarks Office (TMO) has recently appointed a new official to decide opposition cases. This is welcome news. However, those unfamiliar with opposition proceedings in the United Arab Emirates may find the absence of a regulated structure difficult to negotiate. Many procedures originate from the customary practice of the TMO, rather than from a clearly defined legislative framework.

New hearings officer

The TMO recently appointed a new hearings officer to hear trademark oppositions and to manage the conduct of opposition proceedings.

For approximately six months before the new appointment, the TMO did not have a person responsible for the conduct of opposition proceedings. Therefore, the new hearings officer faces a backlog of cases that are awaiting a hearing date. Practitioners are also waiting to receive decisions on numerous oppositions that were heard over the previous three years.

Practitioners have already begun to receive notices of hearing from the TMO and some decisions have been issued. This is welcome news and indicates that the new hearings officer has commenced work on the backlog.

Legal framework

The UAE Federal Trademarks Law (37/1992) (as amended by Federal Law 7/2002) and Ministerial Decision 6/1993 Concerning the Implementing Regulations for Federal Law 37/1992 provide a very basic framework for the conduct of opposition proceedings:

  • A written notice of opposition must be lodged at the TMO within 30 days of the last publication of the application that is being opposed.
  • The TMO must forward on the notice of opposition to the applicant within 15 days (there is no obligation on the opponent to serve the document on the other side).
  • The applicant has 30 days from receipt of the notice of opposition to lodge a written reply with the TMO. This will not automatically be forwarded on to the opponent by the TMO and there is no obligation on the applicant to serve it on the opponent.
  • If a reply is not lodged within 30 days, the application is deemed abandoned.
  • If a reply is lodged, the TMO must hear the submissions of either or both parties, if a party requests to be heard.
  • The TMO has the power to issue a decision (usually following a hearing) either by accepting or rejecting the application, or by imposing any restrictions or conditions on the application which it deems appropriate.

Aside from the above points, there is no further guidance in the Trademarks Law or the regulations on how opposition proceedings are to be conducted.

Frequently asked questions

For practitioners used to a structured environment, the Trademarks Law may appear somewhat sparse. Set out below are answers to questions which practitioners from other jurisdictions might ask when managing an opposition in the United Arab Emirates.

Is there a minimum standard for the contents of the notice of opposition or the reply?
No. As far as the Trademarks Law is concerned, the only requirement is that the notice of opposition or the reply be in writing. In practice, a very basic statement will suffice.

At the time of the hearing, the hearings officer may refer back to the grounds alleged in the notice of opposition. Therefore, it is good practice to set out all potential grounds of opposition in the notice of opposition and allege the basic facts on which the opponent relies. However, there is nothing to prevent new grounds or facts from being introduced at the time of the hearing.

The TMO does not routinely assess the merits or quality of the notice of opposition or the reply at the time that they are submitted. However, a brief formality check will be conducted to assess whether the documents are in order and have been lodged within the stipulated deadline.

Is there provision for an exchange of evidence between the parties?
No. Evidence can be submitted at any time by either party. In practice, if they are relying on evidence, the parties present it on the day of the hearing.

Arriving for a hearing with no indication as to the nature or extent of the evidence which the other party may produce can be intimidating. However, both parties are in the same position. Each has the opportunity to ambush the other.

As a matter of practice, the hearings officer will ask that the other party be given a copy of whatever evidence is submitted (although this is not always strictly enforced). The hearings officer will usually, if requested, agree to a short adjournment (most likely two weeks) for either party to submit further evidence after the hearing. Hence, there is a small window of opportunity to counter surprising material from the other side.

Any evidence must be translated into Arabic, which can take time.

Is there any provision for time extensions?
No. The deadlines to submit the notice of opposition and the reply are clearly prescribed by the Trademarks Law and strictly enforced. It is not possible to extend these 30-day deadlines.

The weekend in the United Arab Emirates falls on Friday and Saturday. Deadlines falling on these days (or on any public holiday) carry over to the next working day.

Is there a formal ability to adjourn proceedings?
No. Most deadlines stipulated by the TMO are non-extendable. Therefore, no unilateral adjournments are granted. However, if both parties agree to an adjournment of the hearing on the basis that they are negotiating, then the hearings officer is usually willing to grant an adjournment. In this case, the parties may execute a letter requesting adjournment, which should be presented at the time of the hearing.

Is there a requirement that submissions be exchanged before a hearing?
No. As with evidence, written submissions can be presented on the day of the hearing.

In reality, many practitioners in the United Arab Emirates do not provide the hearings officer with written submissions. However, practitioners may submit either skeleton or comprehensive written arguments, as well as oral submissions either before the hearing or at the hearing itself. The submission of written arguments helps to ensure that the notes taken by the hearings officer are complete and accurate and, hence, that the key points are well understood.

How much notice will be given of a hearing date?
Hearing notices may be issued with as little as 15 days' notice to prepare for the hearing (with no formal ability to have this extended). Commonly, 30 days' notice of a hearing is given.

There is a significant backlog of hearings waiting to be held and decisions waiting to issue on hearings conducted several years ago. At present, hearing notices are being issued at regular intervals. However, there is no pattern to the order in which a matter might be set down for a hearing. Accordingly, parties should be prepared to attend a hearing at any time and with very short notice.

For this reason, parties should prepare evidence and draft submissions as soon as practicable after the exchange of notice of opposition and reply.

If only 15 or 30 days' notice of a hearing is given, there is rarely sufficient time to compile and translate evidence.

How is the hearing conducted?
At the hearing, the procedure is very flexible with no restriction on the material which may be submitted.

There is no reason why new arguments or grounds of opposition cannot be introduced on the day of the hearing even if they have not previously been raised in the notice of opposition or the reply.

Both parties attend the office of the hearings officer and are given turns to speak. The hearings officer will type notes of the points being made as the parties' representatives speak. For this reason, it is advisable to keep the points made in oral submissions brief and directly to the point.

While it is not mandatory to provide written submissions to the hearings officer which elaborate on the oral arguments, it is advisable to do so.

Outlook

For the time being, there is no indication that the opposition procedure will change in the United Arab Emirates. As more hearings are conducted, it is apparent that an informal set of practices is evolving to deal with situations as they arise. Access to information about these practices is difficult and can be acquired only through experience or discussions with fellow practitioners.

For further information on this topic please contact
David Moore at Clyde & Co by telephone (+971 4 331 1102), fax (+971 4 331 9920) or email (david.moore@clydeco.ae).

 

Spain: Changes to the criminal prosecution of parallel imports

Changes to the criminal prosecution of parallel imports

Contributed by Grau & Angulo


On June 23 2010 Act 5/2010, which amends the Criminal Code, was published in the Official State Gazette.

Among other relevant amendments, this act revises Article 274 of the Criminal Code (which defines trademark infringements as a crime) by excluding from its scope of application unathorized imports of genuine products from outside the European Union.

Since October 1 2004, parallel imports have constituted a criminal offence in Spain. Indeed, since the reform instituted by Act 15/2003, Article 274 of the Criminal Code was amended (among other amendments) in the following terms:

"Likewise, in the same penalties (from 6 months to 2 years of prison and from 12 months to 24 months of fine) shall incur on those who intentionally import these products (products which according to the previous paragraph -reproduce, imitate, modify or in any other way use- a trademark identical or confusingly similar with a registered one) without said consent (referring to the trademark holder's consent) both these products have a licit or illicit origin in their country of origin; notwithstanding the foregoing, the import of these products from an EU State will not be punishable when products have been purchased directly from the holder of the trademark in that state or with his consent."

As a result of the latest reforms, the above paragraph has been removed from Article 274, which has been reduced to the following sentence: "Likewise, in the same penalties (from 6 months to 2 years of prison and from 12 months to 24 months of fine) shall incur on those who import these products".

Consequently, only the import of counterfeit products will be considered a criminal offence.

This relevant amendment will come into force on December 23 2010.

In the years during which imports of grey products constituted a criminal offence, the Spanish appellate courts issued few rulings on the subject, and those decisions which were issued were contradictory.

The most recent, issued by Section 7 of the Madrid Court of Appeal, stated that imports of genuine products from outside the European Union without the trademark holder's consent did not constitute a criminal offence under the Criminal Code. It found that the amendment introduced by Act 15/2003, holding that the import of grey products constituted a criminal offence, infringed the principle of legality which underpins criminal law.

The court considered that the act of import necessarily refers to products which bear a mark that unlawfully reproduces, imitates, modifies or is confusingly similar to a registered trademark. Consequently, if products are genuine (ie, if no such unlawful act has been committed since the products have been manufactured by the trademark holder or with its consent), no criminal offence has been committed.

The court held that a contrary interpretation - which was the position taken by trademark holders and other IP practitioners - was not possible. If the legislature had wanted to include a new criminal offence in Article 274 of the Criminal Code and criminalize these kinds of activity, this would have been expressly stated in the preliminary recitals of Act 15/2003. It was thus not possible to interpret Article 274 as having broader applicable scope.

This argument drew some interest, given that the preliminary recitals of Act15/2003 Act indeed included no clear provisions on imports of grey products. The sole provision in the preliminary recitals on the amendments to the articles on IP crimes was this general consideration:

"the penalties for these crimes are aggravated and the description of the activities which constitutes a criminal offence is technically improved according to the social reality and its impact on economic and social life. Because of that, there is no necessity for a complaint by the offended trademark holder to be filed."

Notwithstanding the above, another section of the Madrid Court of Appeal (Section 17) ruled in November 2005 that the import of genuine products from outside the European Union without the trademark holder's consent constituted a criminal offence. It reached this conclusion after taking into consideration precisely the preliminary recitals of Act 15/2003.

In the preliminary recitals of Act 5/2010, nothing is said in relation to the exclusion from the Criminal Code of parallel imports as a criminal offence. However, the new wording of Article 274 introduced by this new act excludes such activities without any room for doubt.

Another ruling issued on the topic was that of the Murcia Court of Appeal, which agreed with Section 7 of the Madrid Court of Appeal that parallel imports did not constitute a criminal offence. The court stated that when products turn out to be genuine, criminal law must not be applied; other, non-criminal laws (eg, the civil laws) are the only legislation to prevent such activity, which jeopardizes the industrial property rights of trademark holders.

In 2003 several opinions were voiced considering that Spain had gone too far by making these commercial activities a criminal offence, and political parties came under pressure to reform the Criminal Code in order to exclude parallel imports from its scope. Unfortunately, these lobbyists have succeeded.

These amendments do not affect the provisions contained in other non-criminal Spanish laws which allow trademark holders to prevent the import of genuine products from outside the European Union without the trademark holder's consent.

Surprisingly, the changes which Act 5/2010 has introduced apply only to Article 274 of the Criminal Code, which concerns trademark; the act makes no mention of copyright and thus does not exclude from the scope of the code imports of genuine products from outside the European Union without the copyright holder's consent. As a result, a paradox will exist in Spanish law whereby the import from outside the European Union of genuine trademarked products without the rights holder's consent will not constitute a criminal offence, but the import from outside the European Union of genuine copyright-protected products without the rights holder's consent will constitute a criminal offence.

For further information on this topic please contact Jordi Camó at Grau & Angulo by telephone (+34 93 202 34 56), fax (+34 93 240 53 83) or email (j.camo@gba-ip.com).

 

India: High Court steps in to cancel controller of patent's deemed abandonment order

High Court steps in to cancel controller of patent's deemed abandonment order

Contributed by Singh & Associates


Section 21 of the Patents Act 1970 provides that if an applicant does not comply with the requirements of the act or instructions from the Patent Office within the prescribed timeframe, the patent application will be deemed abandoned.

In Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson v Union of India(1) the Delhi High Court looked into the issue of 'deemed abandonment' of a patent application under Section 21(1) of the act. This case raised an important issue regarding the rejection of an application by the controller of patents by way of deemed abandonment under this section.

According to Section 21(1), a patent applicant must meet all requirements or objections raised by the Patent Office within a stipulated timeframe of 12 months from the date of issuance of the first statement of objections (see Rule 24B(4)). Upon failure to comply, the Patent Office may treat the application as abandoned by the applicant.

Section 21 reads as follows:

"Section 21. Time for putting application in order for grant.

(1) An application for a patent shall be deemed to have been abandoned unless, within such period as may be prescribed, the applicant has complied with all the requirements imposed on him by or under this Act, whether in connection with the complete specification or otherwise in relation to the application from the date on which the first statement of objections to the application or complete specification or other documents related thereto is forwarded to the applicant by the Controller."

Rule 24B reads as follows:

"Rule 24B: Examination of Application.

(4) the time for putting an application in order for grant under section 21 shall be twelve months from the date on which the first statement of objection is issued to the applicant to comply with the requirements."

According to the petitioner in the present case, the patent application was filed on July 29 2005. It was published in the Official Journal of Patents by the Patent Office and on October 8 2007 the controller issued the first examination report, pointing to defects and shortcomings in the application. The petitioner filed its reply to the first examination report on December 10 2007. The petitioner received a second examination report reiterating the same issues mentioned in the first examination report. The petitioner also duly filed a reply to this examination report within the stipulated timeframe on September 22 2008, together with a request for a hearing.

On October 10 2008 the controller issued an official letter to the petitioner, stating that "the last date for putting the application in order for Grant has been expired on 8th September 2008, hence the Application has been deemed to be abandoned under section 21(1) of the Act". On these grounds, the patent application was rejected and the petitioner initiated the present case.

The Delhi High Court observed that the grievance of the petitioner was twofold. First, as the application had been deemed abandoned, the applicant had no opportunity to file an appeal, which otherwise would have beeen available to the applicant had the order of rejection been passed under Section 15 of the act. Second, the order did not deal with the applicant's submissions to the objections raised by the controller in the examination reports.

Further, the court was of the view that the applicant had replied to the objections raised. If such reply was found unsatisfactory, the controller should have proceeded with the rejection of the application under Section 15, not Section 21(1). Section 15 reads as follows:

"Section 15. Power of Controller to refuse or require amended applications, etc., in certain cases.

Where the Controller is satisfied that the application or any specification or any other document filed in pursuance thereof does not comply with the requirements of this Act or of any rules made thereunder, the Controller may refuse the application or may require the application, specification or the other documents, as the case may be, to be amended to his satisfaction before he proceeds with the application and refuse the application on failure to do so."

The court pointed to the case of Ferid Allani v Union of India,(2) wherein it was held that abandonment requires a conscious act on the part of the petitioner which would reveal an intention to abandon the application. However, in the present case the petitioner duly responded in writing to all objections set out in the examination reports. Further, the petitioner's intention was never to abandon its application, which was apparent from its reply dated September 22 2008, where a request was made for the appointment of a hearing in case the controller was not inclined to grant the patent. The court also took the view that it was the controller's duty to give the applicant a proper hearing before dictating any order which would adversely affect the applicant's rights.

Ultimately, the court held that the controller had erred in his decision that the petitioner had abandoned its application under the terms of Section 21(1) of the act. Under the present circumstances, the patent application could not be rejected on this ground. In the controller 's opinion, the rejection, if necessitated, should have been carried out under Section 15 of the act. However, no reasons were given to indicate why the reply filed by the petitioner was not found in order for the grant. In addition, no account was given for the denial of the opportunity to be heard.

For these reasons, the Delhi High Court preferred to set aside the controller's impugned order and ordered the restoration of the petitioner's patent application. Through its decision, the court clarified that if an applicant has responded to the objections raised by the controller within the stipulated timeframe, the application cannot be deemed abandoned under Section 21(1) of the act. If the controller is dissatisfied with the applicant's submitted response, the controller should reject the application for the grant of patent under Section 15 of the act. This provides the applicant with an opportunity to appeal under Section 117A of the act. Section 21(1) will be applied only when the applicant has done nothing, has not replied or has abstained from replying within the stipulated timeframe (ie, it has done nothing to put its application in order for the grant as required under the act).

For further information on this topic please contact Manoj K Singh at Singh & Associates by telephone (+91 11 4666 5000), fax (+91 11 4666 5001) or email (manoj@singhassociates.in).

Endnotes

(1) WP (C) 9126/2009.

(2) 2008 (37) PTC 448 (Del).

 

dimanche, juillet 04, 2010

Saint-Ouen du Moyen-Âge à nos jours

C’est au Haut Moyen-Âge que l’existence d’une ville royale, puis d’un village, est attestée par les textes. La ville tire son nom d’Audoenus Dado, évêque en 641, connu dans l’histoire sous le nom d’Ouen et sanctifié. Une chapelle édifiée sur le lieu de sa mort (683) est à l’origine d’un village recensé dans les biens de l’abbaye de Saint-Denis en 832. En 1285, Charles de Valois, frère du roi Philippe IV le Bel, possède un manoir à Saint-Ouen dans lequel, en 1351, le roi Jean II le Bon fonde le premier ordre de chevalerie français : l’Ordre de l’Etoile.



Dévasté pendant la guerre de Cent Ans, puis les guerres de religion, le village a pour seigneur, au XVIIe siècle, Seiglières de Boisfranc, qui y fait construire par l’architecte Le Pautre un château de style classique. Les ducs de Gesvres, la marquise de Pompadour, le duc de Nivernais en sont les différents propriétaires tout au long du XVIIIe siècle. Les 700 habitants du village vivent principalement de la culture des blés, de la vigne, des asperges ou travaillant dans les demeures que possèdent le maréchal de Soubise et le banquier Necker.



En 1814, après l’abdication de Napoléon Ier, Louis XVIII, de retour d’exil, signe dans l’ancien château seigneurial la « déclaration de Saint-Ouen » qui fonde la Restauration. Le roi rachète la propriété, fait raser le château et charge l’architecte J.J. M. Huvé de construire une demeure de style palladien qu’il offre à sa favorite, la Comtesse du Cayla….


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jeudi, juillet 01, 2010

Droit de suite : la justice européenne valide les particularismes nationaux

Les héritiers légaux et les légataires testamentaires de S. Dali se disputent le droit de suite des oeuvres du maître espagnol. La vente a lieu en France, où le droit applicable réserve le droit de suite aux seuls héritiers légaux, à l'exclusion des légataires. La Cour de justice valide ces particularismes nationaux.

Pour rappel, le droit de suite se définit, dans le domaine du droit d'auteur, comme le droit incessible et inaliénable de l'auteur d'une œuvre originale d'art graphique ou plastique à être intéressé économiquement aux reventes successives de l'œuvre concernée (voir le 1er considérant de la directive 2001/84 relative au droit de suite au profit de l'auteur d'une œuvre d'art originale).

Ce droit vise à assurer aux auteurs d'œuvres d'art graphiques et plastiques une participation économique au succès de leurs créations. Très concrètement, la loi veille donc à ce que l'auteur d'œuvres plastiques ou graphiques perçoive une quote-part du bénéfice réalisé lors de la revente d'une de ses œuvres.

La directive 2001/84 a fixé un cadre relativement précis dans lequel les législations des Etats membres doivent s'inscrire. Par exemple, bien que la Directive laisse les Etats membres libres de fixer le seuil minimal de prix de vente à partir duquel une vente est soumise au droit de suite, elle leur impose néanmoins de ne pas fixer un seuil supérieur à €3000. Ceci implique que sur le territoire de l'Union, toutes les ventes supérieures à €3000 donnent lieu à un droit de suite (sous réserve de certaines exceptions).

De la même manière, la directive impose aux Etats membres de prévoir la transmission du droit de suite aux ayants droit de l'auteur après la mort de celui-ci, mais laisse aux Etats membres la possibilité de prévoir ou non une gestion collective obligatoire ou facultative (via par exemple une société de gestion de droit telle par exemple la Société des Auteurs dans les Arts Graphiques ou Plastiques, l'ADAGP) du droit de suite dévolu à l'auteur et à ses ayant droit (article 6 §1 et 2 de la directive).

La décision rendue par la Cour de Justice répond à une question préjudicielle relative à l'interprétation de cet article 6, plus particulièrement sur la notion d'ayant droit.

En l'espèce, le litige opposait une fondation espagnole, légataire universelle des droits de propriété intellectuelle de Salvador Dali, la Fundacion Gala-Salvador Dali, et l'ADAGP. Cette dernière gérait pour le compte de son homologue espagnole, la VEGAP, les droits d'auteurs de feu Salvador Dali en France.

Des œuvres du maître catalan avaient été vendues aux enchères en France, à la suite de quoi l'ADAGP avait reversé le produit résultant du droit de suite perçu à cette occasion, aux héritiers de Salvador Dali, et non à la fondation espagnole légataire. Ceci était conforme au droit français, qui réserve le droit de suite aux seuls héritiers légaux, à l'exclusion des légataires. Par conséquent, la fondation espagnole était exclue du bénéfice de ce droit par le droit français. La directive n'ayant pas fait de distinction entre les différentes catégories d'ayant droit, le Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris interrogea la Cour sur la validité de cette restriction.

Dans son arrêt, la Cour rappelle au préalable les deux objectifs de la directive 2001/84 :

  1. assurer un certain niveau de rémunération aux artistes, en rendant le droit de suite inaliénable et ne pouvant faire l'objet d'une renonciation ;
  2. harmoniser les législations pour ce qui concerne la vente d'œuvres concernées par le droit de suite.
De l'avis de la Cour, la réalisation du premier objectif (niveau de rémunération) ne s'avère nullement compromise par la dévolution du droit de suite à certaines catégories de sujets de droit à l'exclusion d'autres après le décès de l'artiste, dévolution qui revêt un caractère accessoire par rapport à cet objectif.

Elle rappelle également que, dans la réalisation du second objectif (harmonisation), conformément au principe de subsidiarité, le législateur de l'Union n'a pas jugé opportun d'intervenir dans le domaine du droit des successions des États membres, laissant ainsi à chacun le soin de définir les catégories de personnes susceptibles d'être qualifiées, dans leur droit national, d'ayants droit.

Par conséquent, la Cour a conclu que l'article 6, §1, de la directive 2001/84 devait être interprété en ce sens qu'il ne s'oppose pas à une disposition de droit interne qui réserve le bénéfice du droit de suite aux seuls héritiers légaux de l'artiste, à l'exclusion des légataires testamentaires.

Le régime français en la matière est donc validé.

Notons à titre complémentaire que la Cour a également jugé utile de préciser qu'il incombe à la juridiction de renvoi, aux fins de l'application de la disposition nationale transposant ledit article 6, §1, de tenir dûment compte de toutes les règles pertinentes visant à résoudre les conflits de lois en matière de dévolution successorale du droit de suite.

Autrement dit, le juge devra d'abord s'assurer de droit applicable à la situation en cause (lorsqu'elle contient un élément d'extranéité), puis ensuite vérifier quelle portée est donnée par ce droit à la notion d'ayant droit de l'auteur, lorsqu'il s'agit du droit de suite.

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