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ECTA MEMBERS’ VOICE - WIPO new free database of judicial decisions on intellectual property from around the world has been launched
By Flip Petillion (Internet and WIPO-Link Committee member, Petillion law firm, BE)

Imagine you had access to leading judicial decisions on IP topics from all over the world, in a language that you understand and at no cost.

Science-fiction, you think?

Well, not anymore. On 24 September2020 the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) launched WIPO Lex-Judgments. It is a database meant to provide free of charge access to leading judicial decisions related to IP law from around the world.

What is it?

The database captures searchable, bibliographic details for all indexed judgments, which includes subject matter, issuing authority, type of proceeding, relevant legislation, keywords and a summary as well as the full text of the judgment in its original language. As it is integrated with WIPO Lex, WIPO Lex-Judgments also enables cross-references to national laws and international treaties referenced in the decision.

WIPO Lex-Judgments started in a modest way. It contains just over 400 documents from only 10 countries (Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, Republic of Korea, and Spain). The database has the ambition to expand with the addition of judgments from every new participating member state and to improve with updates to enhance its search and filteringas well as machine translation functions.

The WIPO Lex-Judgments interface is available in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish and enhances global access to the text of foreign IP judgments through the availability of automatic machine translation tools including WIPO Translate.

The judgments in the database are meant to be those establishing precedent or offering a persuasive interpretation of IP law in the relevant jurisdiction. It is WIPO’s ambition to “contribute to informing and strengthening courts" analyses and reasoning as well as to discerning both converging and contrasting national approaches to common IP questions” by “fostering accessibility of information on judicial decisions” and to “provide information on the judicial structures for IP disputes in participating member states”.

Furthermore, each member state page provides an overview of its adjudication structures for IP disputes, outlining relevant features of the administrative and judicial procedures, IP case statistics and links to national online databases of judgments.

Who is it made for?

This new WIPO initiative is inspired by the organisation’s ambition to help judges from around the world share experiences on the common challenges they face, to deliver targeted capacity building activities and to increase the availability of information about IP and courts. It complements WIPO’s existing portal to a comprehensive global collection of IP laws and treaties.

WIPO Lex-Judgments targets judges, policy makers, attorneys and academia and wants to “contribute to a better understanding of how courts address the complex and demanding nature of IP disputes, as they endeavour to make IP adjudication more coherent, effective and accessible”.

Our first comments:

The database is a direct response to the needs expressed by states, initially from the Latin America and Caribbean region (LAC region) and Spain, for a resource that improves the availability of, and access to, information and data on judicial systems and decisions on IP at an international level. Needless to remind the reader that there are many other regions in the world that would benefit from such information sharing.

It is worth emphasising that the database is composed of judicial decisions that have been selected directly by the courts or other national authorities of each member state as leading decisions due to their significant impact or precedential value.

We applaud the courts and national authorities for their valuable contributions, even though we would have preferred to see the involvement of neutrals in this exercise, like academics and experienced IP practitioners.

This database, once comprehensive and globally representative, may become particularly useful for practitioners and in-house counsel to know court positions on common issues of a highly sophisticated nature.


The views expressed are those of our members and not necessarily of ECTA as an association.
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