Contributed By Linklaters
Article XI.337 of the CEL provides for the exclusive jurisdiction of the Enterprise Court of Brussels (even in cases where the parties are not business people) to adjudicate matters relating to patent rights and SPCs, in first instance.
This exclusive jurisdiction is subject only to arbitration tribunals, which are still allowed to rule on disputes relating to the ownership of a patent right, the validity or infringement of a patent, or in relation to the determination of specific licensing awards with respect to said patents (other than compulsory licences).
The Brussels Court of Appeal enjoys exclusive jurisdiction at the appeals level. In specific circumstances, an extraordinary appeals procedure may be lodged before the Court of Cassation (see 7.1 Special Provisions for Intellectual Property Proceedings).
A court’s bench ruling in first or second instance consists of either one or three judges. Judges sitting in on IP matters in Belgium are legally trained but tend to have no specific scientific or technical background, so frequently engage independent experts to perform fact-finding investigations or give technical opinions.
The exclusive jurisdiction set out above is without prejudice to the future competence of the Unified Patent Court when installed and operating, pursuant to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court.
As Belgium is one of the parties that has adhered to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, there have been calls to set up a local division in the Brussels Enterprise Court, which would also be able to handle cases in several languages. At the time of this report, the creation of such a local division had not yet been confirmed.