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Sunday, 21 December 2003

MILL CHUCK PATENT: JUDGE WON’T CHUCK OUT DEFENDANT’S APPLICATION

In Nikken Kosakusho Works Ltd and another v Pioneer Trading Co Ltd (19 December) the Patents Court faced a curious little local dispute with potentially international consequences. Nikken sued Pioneer in the UK, the US and Germany for infringing their patent for a mill chuck used in engineering processes. In the UK, Nikken discontinued their claim after the application for an interim injunction was refused on the ground that, on the evidence, there was no arguable case. Pioneer then asked Nikken to acknowledge that the chuck did not infringe the patent. Nikken refused, so Pioneer applied for permission to amend their counterclaim to enable them to seek a declaration under s.71 of the Patents Act 1977 that they were not infringing Nikken’s patent. Nikken resisted that application on the grounds that (i) they had offered binding undertakings neither to threaten nor to bring proceedings against Pioneer and (ii) in the light of that offer, the Pioneer’s wanted the declaration so that it could use it in the other proceedings. Mr Justice Lewison allowed Pioneer’s application, holding that there was no reason for refusing it. Nikken’s fear that a declaration would be used by Pioneer for collateral purposes presupposed that Pioneer would actually obtain such a declaration.

The IPKat commends this decision. For goodness’ sake, if whatever it is that Pioneer is allegedly doing is not a patent infringement, it might save everyone a lot of time and trouble if the court was given the opportunity to say so, even if it did influence the outcome of parallel litigation elsewhere.

Famous chucks here, here and here


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