For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Before or after the storm, patent litigation goes on ...

Descent into the Maelstrom?
No, just EU patent reform ...
A year or so ago, European patent litigators were girding themselves for a frightening descent into the eddying, giddy vortex of European patent reform. Even so, the pace at which the winter of discontent was about to manifest itself could hardly have been predicted as plans for the unitary patent system and unified patent court became detailed enough to be measured up against the criteria of efficiency and experience -- where both were found wanting. Meeting followed meeting; draft followed draft; discussion followed discussion and all was chaos.  It was a relief for most members of the profession when the Commission accepted the inevitable: more time was needed, as well as more thought both as to what the details of the new regime should be and as to how to persuade those affected by it that it represented an improvement on its predecessor.  The whole sad saga has been chronicled in detail by this weblog, in particular by the AmeriKat, whose many posts have received no little acclaim (see eg here, here and here).

A year later, rumour has it that, if the end is not yet in sight, we have at least reached the beginning of the endgame.  Of the two countries standing out against the unitary patent system, the unkind rumour from Brussels is that Spain will sell its opposition in exchange for a financial substantial bail-out to ease its economic crisis and that, once Spain surrenders, Italy will not want to stand out alone.  There is an expectation that opponents of Articles 6 to 8 of the proposed Regulation on the unified patent court will eventually accept with good (or bad) grace that these provisions, and the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the European patent litigation process, are non-negotiable.  There is also the hope, perhaps more imaginary than real, that objectors to the proposed scheme will be pressured by their clients who perceive that they are being deprived of the chance to make substantial savings in maintaining and protecting their European patent portfolios through the intransigence of their legal advisers and representatives.

It is against this backdrop that IBC's fourth annual International Patent Litigation Conference in London on 11 December. This is an event in which several of this Kat's friends are participating, which is another reason why he takes a particular interest in it.

The first thing this Kat notes is that, in the midst of the negative effect of the "three Cs" -- confusion, criticism and conflict -- patent litigation in Europe goes on; there are three more positive "Cs" to balance them: continuity, calculation and consensus.  The unitary patent system and the unified patent court merit the attention of conference participants only as far as the morning coffee break. With Professor Sir Robin Jacob (IBIL) providing the thunder and David Rosenberg (GSK) the lightning, a subtle incentive is given to any registrant who might otherwise have thought of slipping in quietly during the break.

After coffee, the programme
is still quite stirring ...
What happens after coffee, you may ask.  That's when the programme gets on with the nitty-gritty of day-to-day patent litigation: cross-border preliminary and final injunctive relief (this would be one of the Kat's favourite subjects if he could only understand the full implications of Solvay, noted by this Kat here), what the America Invents Act means for even non-US patent strategy, competition between national patent courts (Mannheim v London, actually) in the "rocket docket" stakes and, following tea, a selection between parallel sessions that enable participants to break free from the shackles of a one-size-fits-all programme and focus on specifics that lie a little closer to their hearts (this Kat has always liked parallel sessions: they're easier to chair because the level of audience interest, and therefore participation, is generally a lot higher).

If you want to share the fun and experience the thunder and the lightning, or just want to enjoy the ambience of the Bloomsbury Hotel, London, you can get further details of the International Patent Litigation programme here.  There's a 10% reduction on the registration fee for all readers of this weblog. To claim your discount, don't forget to quote the VIP katcode FKW82338IPK.

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