The team is joined by GuestKats Mirko Brüß, Rosie Burbidge, Nedim Malovic, Frantzeska Papadopolou, Mathilde Pavis, and Eibhlin Vardy
InternKats: Rose Hughes, Ieva Giedrimaite, and Cecilia Sbrolli
SpecialKats: Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo (TechieKat), Hayleigh Bosher (Book Review Editor), and Tian Lu (Asia Correspondent).

Thursday, 13 November 2003


The Patinnova '03 conference, jointly sponsored by the European Commission and the European Patent Office, brought 680 participants to Luxembourg's Hémisphère this week. A wide range of patent-related interests was represented: innovators and innovation managers, patent administrators and policy makers, patent information and search providers, patent insurance and financing bodies -- and of course patent lawyers.

Considering that there's no point in applying for a patent unless you're prepared to enforce it against infringers, many Patinnova participants were remarkably squeamish about the thought of actually going to court and suing someone. Professor William Kingston (Trinity College, Dublin), a veteran campaigner for reform of all aspects of the patent system, called for the compulsory use of arbitration, together with legal aid for respondents when patent arbitrations are appealed to the courts. He attacked the patent enforcement policies of large companies as being intimidatory and observed that money spent on patent lawyers was an inefficient allocation of valuable resources. IPKat co-contributor Jeremy Phillips however argued for a more sympathetic view. Patent litigation addressed issues that mediation and arbitration could not (such as interim relief); it was becoming more efficient with the introduction of specialist courts and pan-European jurisdiction and would be even better value once the IPR Enforcement Directive was adopted. The important thing was not to avoid all patent litigation like the plague, but for businesses to evaluate it (and its dispute resolution alternatives) in the same manner as it would evaluate any other business proposition on the bases of cost, benefit and likelihood of gaining a desirable outcome.

Patent litigation is not a lot of fun, particularly for any business that is dragged into it unwillingly. But nor should its advantages be ignored. The IPKat would like to hear of any readers' experiences of patent litigation, highlighting its strengths or its weaknesses. Just post a comment below or send an email.

Patent litigation insurance here, here and here
Patent alternative dispute resolution here and here

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