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International Aspects of Intellectual Property Law, Part I

One of the most fascinating and challenging areas of the law (I find) are cases where more than one jurisdiction is involved. Since the dawn of the Internet international aspects of the law have become relevant even to small businesses and individual consumers to an extent unprecedented so far. This development is even more true in the field of intellectual property. Infringements can easily spread over the Internet within no time, literally all over the world, involving multiple jurisdictions.

This mini series will cover some of the most essential international aspects of intellectual property law from the German and European point of view.

Inter European cases of infringement
In cases where plaintiff and defendant are domiciled in (different) member states of the EU (except Denmark), jurisdiction is determined pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001.

The general rule is that a person shall be sued in the member state of that person’s domicile. There are several exceptions to this general rule. The most relevant one in infringement cases is in regards to torts. A person may also be sued where the harmful event occurred or may occur. Due to the “virtual” nature of intellectual property, place of action (where the infringing action is happening) and place of effect (where the damage actually occurs) are identical.

Whether an event was harmful and therefore constitutes jurisdiction of a member state, is determined by the relevant laws of that member state (e.g. Trademark Act, Copyright Act).

To be continued.

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