IP everywhere

Since 2004 most intellectual property litigation in Ireland has taken place in the Commercial Court, which is not a true court with jurisdiction separate to that of the other courts but rather is a list of the High Court.

The Commerical Court was established following the recommendations of the Committee on Court Practice and Procedure, of which my late father was a member, and offers litigants an involved case management system and fast-tracked procedures. For IP claims, there is no minimum claim value to qualify for entry. However, costs in running a Commercial Court case are a multiple of what one might expect in an ordinary High Court case.

Obviously not all disputes require such firepower but we don’t see much IP litigation in the District or Circuit Courts, where costs are lower and the lifetime of a case reasonably short.

One recent example of such everyday IP litigation concerns the payment of damages to a broadcaster for showing pay-tv in public without the appropriate subscription (ie. licence). From the Kerryman:

[A] hotel has been ordered to pay €5,174 in royalty [sic] to British Sky Broadcasting who told the court that the hotel had screened sports events in the bar without a commercial contract from the broadcaster.

Judge Ray Fullam heard that an inspector from IMRO had visited the hotel on four occasions in 2006 and 2007. During the inspections, the court heard, sporting events including English premiership soccer matches and Heineken Cup rugby games were showing on a television in the residents’ bar.

The hotel previously held a contract with Sky but it had not been renewed.

Counsel [for the hotel] argued that as the television in question was in a premises where sleeping accommodation is provided and amenities are exclusively or mainly provided for residents, for which there is no discretionary charge, the hotel was exempt from the need for a contract under section 97 of the copyright act.

Judge Fullam found against the hotel and granted an injunction barring the hotel from showing matches on Sky without a contract.

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