New Procedures for Patent Litigation

By Ian Wood and Nicky Boxall Various changes in the Civil Procedure Rules governing the procedure for claims for intellectual property rights, in particular patents, registered designs and registered trade marks are being introduced on 1 April 2003.One change of particular note is the introduction of a new "streamlined procedure" for some patent litigation. Under the basic streamlined procedure:all factual and expert evidence is in writing; there is no requirement to give disclosure of documents; there are no experiments; cross-examination is only permitted on those topics where it is necessary (and is confined to those topics); the total duration of the trial is fixed - and will normally be no more than one day; and the trial will usually take place well within a year of the commencement of the proceedings.Minor variations from the basic streamlined procedure will be possible - for example there could be disclosure of a limited category of documents.The procedure will be available in both the High Court Patents Court and the Patents County Court by agreement between the parties, or when the Court otherwise orders (and when considering whether or not to order the streamlined procedure, particular emphasis will be placed on proportionality, the financial position of the parties, the degree of complexity and the importance of the case). Although it is thought likely that the most extensive use of the procedure will be in the Patents County Court, the overall likely effect will be to make the English courts a significantly more attractive place in which to conduct patent litigation than has been the case in the recent past.Community patent finally on its wayAgreement has been reached on a broad outline for a Community Patent system. At a meeting of the Competitiveness Council of the European Union on 3 March 2003 the jurisdictional basis for a new Community Patents Court was agreed, thus removing what it is hoped will be the last major barrier to a Community Patent system.A new central court will be established based in Luxembourg with appeals being heard by the European Court of First Instance. This new court will have exclusive jurisdiction in actions and claims for invalidity, infringement and declarations of non-infringement in relation to Community Patents and will be set up by 2010. In the meantime, national courts will hear these issues, although it is not clear when the Community Patent system will be up and running.The aim of the new system is to reduce the cost of obtaining patent protection in Europe to a level comparable with the US and Japan. It is estimated that the Community Patent will reduce...

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