The suspension of the execution of an administrative act is an exceptional provision that can be issued by an administrative or judicial authority. It is a precautionary measure that proceeds only when the execution of the administrative act produces unrecoverable or very difficult remediation losses due to the violation of the rights of the entity being administered. The suspension means that the administrative act does not apply until there is a final resolution.
This figure has limited application in the area of Intellectual Property, since to obtain the suspension of the administrative act in judicial headquarters; the entities being administered must demonstrate that, for example, the registration of a trademark or patent violates their rights; or, that the registration of a trademark was improperly canceled due to lack of use.
A more detailed analysis:
- An opposition to a trademark or patent application might be provided by law for the following reasons: lack of distinctiveness, risk of confusion or association, not meeting the requirements of patentability, etc.
- The Ecuadorian Intellectual Property Office denies the opposition and gives way to registration, so that the affected party can challenge that decision before the Contentious Administrative Court, requesting, in addition, the suspension of the act, because the affected party considers that its execution would violate its rights in an irreparable way.
- If the request is granted, registration of the trademark or patent is suspended. After the judicial process, which has a minimum duration of three years, the sentence is issued. For the purpose of this analysis, we assume that the administrative resolution is ratified, granting the registration and denying the opposition.
In this scenario, did leaving the applicant without the ownership of his registration for three years violate his rights?
This would be the main conflict that could cause the suspension of the execution of an administrative act in Intellectual Property.
What happens in practice?
The judicial authority generally does not accept the request for suspension of the administrative act because, although the existence of irremediable loss caused by the execution of the act can be demonstrated, the rights of the person who obtained the registration of the trademark or the patent are also at risk.
It must be considered that most conflicts over Intellectual Property derive from trilateral administrative procedures, in which the administrative authority and two interested or administered parties intervene. Therefore, the suspension of the administrative act in this branch is especially controversial and unusual.
In summary, the substance of the dispute is that the contentious-administrative judge must assess whether or not the suspension of the decision of the administrative authority applies, taking into account the losses that could be suffered by both; the party that achieved the registration of the trademark or patent and the other party that considers their rights affected by that registration as well. There will always be an important degree of subjectivity, but the judge must receive comprehensive and true information from the parties in conflict to form his or her judgment.
Additionally, the judge that resolves the suspension of the administrative act, until there is a final decision on the conflict, should have the possibility of requiring sufficient guarantees to respond for the losses that may arise from the suspension if the final decision ratifies the resolution of the administrative authority. A reform to improve the application of the law would be to demand that enough guarantee´s be determined – the judge himself should set its amount – to grant the suspension of the administrative act.