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Countdown to the Mobile World Congress: This is how intellectual property rights, which for the first time include the metaverse, will be protected

Cintia Bernhardt and Mario López, lawyers at Garrigues IP Department.

The Barcelona and Alicante commercial judges have approved the Intellectual Property Fast Action Protocol in the event of potential conflicts during the congress.

From February 27 to March 2, 2023, Barcelona will host a new edition of the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world’s leading congress in the communications and mobile telephone industry. Businesses from all over the world will take advantage of the congress to showcase new products and technologies that are protected by multiple intellectual property rights.

In view of the decisive role that these rights play and given that conflicts are expected to arise between the different companies in the sector, the commercial court judges of Barcelona and Alicante (European Union trademarks courts) have, once again this year, approved the Intellectual Property Fast Action Protocol Mobile World Congress 2023. The aim is to provide participants of the MWC with specific procedural tools to enable them to protect and exercise their rights swiftly and effectively.

Although the 2023 Protocol has not changed substantially over the last few years, a notable new feature is that a specific measure has been added for actions in the metaverse or in other types of virtual environments, worlds or online platforms.

In particular, the following measures have been agreed:

  1. To issue decisions on the admission of applications for protective letters on the same day they are filed (24 hours). Protective letters may be filed by those who seek to avoid injunctive relief being adopted against them without a hearing, enabling them to appear in court and make their submissions.
  2. To give priority to applications for urgent injunctive relief (with or without a hearing), preliminary proceedings and/or to verify facts relating to patents, technological innovations and industrial designs that are to be presented in the MWC, as well as to claims for trademark and copyright infringements, antitrust, unfair competition and illegal advertising in connection with products and materials that are presented, exhibited, promoted, offered or sold at the congress. The judges undertake to issue decisions:
  1. within two days (48 hours), on applications for preliminary proceedings and/or to verify facts, and on applications for injunctive relief without a hearing;
  2. within a maximum term of ten days on applications for injunctive relief when a hearing is scheduled, provided that a protective letter has been submitted.
  1. Injunctive relief and/or urgent proceedings will be adopted immediately for any presentation, exhibition, promotion, offer or sale carried out or to be carried out by participants during the MWC, via the metaverse or in other types of virtual environments, worlds or online platforms.
  2. The necessary measures to safeguard the confidentiality of information that may constitute a trade secret, and which has been submitted in a proceeding of those mentioned in the protocol will be adopted either ex officio or at the request of a party.
  3. Finally, the commercial courts of Barcelona will immediately enforce the injunctive relief and/or urgent proceedings indicated by the European Union Trademark court of Alicante, within its jurisdiction on European Union trademarks and Community designs. 

This is the ninth year running that the commercial courts of Barcelona have adopted the protocol, while the Alicante courts have been adopting it now for five years. It is expected the number of matters recorded to increase this year, after a notable decrease in 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in which only 6 preventive letters and 2 proceedings to verify facts were filed, according to the report published by the Courts of Barcelona and Alicante.