I am on a break with the family until after Easter, hence only slowly treating myself to writing up blog posts. There are one or two in the queue, and I hope to be clearing them before long. ]
In C‑832/21 Beverage City & Lifestyle GmbH v Advance Magazine Publishers Inc. Richard de la Tour AG Opined a few weeks back. The claim is for trademark infringement between a US domiciled holder of an EU Trademark, and its EU suppliers in Poland and Germany. The AG suggest Article 8(1)’s joinder mechanism may apply in the case, provided the claimant in limine litis (at the start of proceedings) prove the anchor defendant’s role in the chain of infringements.
Background is the Union Trademark Regulation 2017/1001, which has separate rules on jurisdiction discussed in ia AMS Neve, however it leaves A8(1) Brussels Ia’s anchor defendant mechanism untouched.
(34) ff the AG uses the opportunity to clarify CJEU Nintendo, with respect to Article 8)1)’s condition of ‘same situation in law’: the AG suggests the Court clarify that the application of different national laws as a result of intellectual property rights’ territorial scope, does not stand in the way of the situation being the same in law in the case of a Union trademark.
Next the AG discusses the issues also of relevance in ia CJEU C‑145/10 Painer, namely the question of sameness in fact, and argues for a flexible interpretation despite the defendants at issue not being contractually linked. He suggests inter alia that it would run against the intention of the Regulation to force the claimant into proving the anchor defendant be the main instigator of the infringement. Along similar lines, that the anchor defendant is not a corporation itself but rather one of its directors, with domicile in a different Member State, does not in the view of the AG prevent him being used as anchor defendant, provided (77) claimant prove at the start of proceedings that the director actively engaged in the infringement or should have known about it but did not stop it.
One can see merit in the AG’s approach in that it, as he also suggests, addresses the issue of abuse of the anchor defendant mechanism. On the other hand, this engagement with some of the merits of the case always raises the issue of how intensive that can /ought to be at the jurisdictional stage without leading to a ‘mini’ trial’. It may be preferable simply to hold that as a director of a corporation, one should not be surprised to be used as jurisdictional anchor for that corporation’s infringements, in one’s place of domicile.
EU Private international law, 3rd ed. 2021, 2.482 ff.