Patent litigation – Double track system vs. bifurcation system

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Double track system 

If you are sued by a patentee for patent infringement, one of the options you often have would be to attempt to invalidate the patent on the ground that the patent lacks patentability. The issue here is whether you can assert invalidity of the patent at issue to an infringement court, or you need to initiate a separate proceeding at a national patent office or a specialized patent court in order to argue patent invalidity. As for Japan, in addition to an invalidation proceeding at the Japanese Patent Office (Track 1), Japanese patent law allows a defendant in an infringement court to assert patent invalidity within the same proceeding (invalidity defense), and the court can judge the validity on its own (Track 2). This legal system can be referred to as a “double track system”.  Examples of jurisdictions with this system besides Japan are the U.S., the U.K., France and Korea.

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Google held liable in Italy for abuse of economic dependence

abuse of economic dependenceAfter being investigated for an alleged breach of competition law, Google is now experiencing negative outcomes also in the context of private enforcement, as the Court of first instance of Milan held Big G liable for abuse of economic dependence. This concept is unknown to EU competition law and is a separate concept from the abuse of dominant position.

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Into the void – The lack of interaction of IP and competition law internationally

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Competition law is well recognized and enforced either regionally or nationally in a large part of the modern world. However, quite surprisingly, there is no comprehensive international agreement, which would regulate competition law in any great substantive detail. An international agreement has certainly been discussed, but even today there is no global agreement, which could be compared e.g. to the Paris or Berne Conventions or TRIPS. The role of competition law has also been discussed within the framework of the WTO dispute resolution mechanism, but it has not won any significant ground within the system. Continue reading “Into the void – The lack of interaction of IP and competition law internationally”

Measures for preserving evidence – different requirements in UK/Germany/France/UPC and their implications

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In some patent infringement cases, relevant evidence lies in the control of the alleged infringer or a third party.  It may be that the patent holder cannot get access to the evidence or that the evidence may be conveniently manipulated before it is disclosed. In these kind of situations, the patent holder can potentially rely on a court to order measures for preserving evidence, which may include compulsorily entering premises, inspecting the allegedly infringing goods or process, making detailed description or even physical seizure of relevant objects or documents. To achieve a surprise effect, the court order should usually be issued ex parte.

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The Maxacalcitol case in Japan; broader protection for a “significant” invention under the doctrine of equivalence?

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In Japan, a very important judgment concerning the doctrine of equivalents has recently been handed down; i.e., the Maxacalcitol judgment by the IP High Court. Although the judgment was appealed and is currently pending at the Supreme Court, it is likely that the judgment of the IP High Court will be upheld. If the judgment becomes final, it would be much easier for a “significant” invention to be protected under the doctrine of equivalents.

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The difficult marriage of IP & competition law

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The relationship between IP and competition law has certainly not been a bed of roses. Initially, the two regimes were regarded as separate (inherency theory). One could argue that the primary goal of IP is to promote innovation, while the primary goal of competition law is to promote competition. This is of course a somewhat simplified picture of the two regimes, since also other important objectives could be stressed, but this simplification helps to underscore that a certain tension between the regimes could be observed. Given the potential of conflict between objectives, it was argued that competition law only should play a role in situations where the IP holder goes beyond the exclusive right. Continue reading “The difficult marriage of IP & competition law”

Antitrust compliance programs and limitation of liability in Italy

Antitrust compliance programsSince fines issued by competition authorities are a major concern for companies, the implementation of antitrust compliance programs should be a priority for legal counsel. Indeed, antitrust fines are of a purely punitive nature and are usually followed by damage lawsuits filed by the harmed parties. Therefore, these fines amount to an abrupt loss and do not exempt the liable firm to compensate harmed parties for the damages suffered. As a consequence, all the companies involved in antitrust investigations should consider implementing a defensive strategy aimed at minimizing the amount of the fine. Continue reading “Antitrust compliance programs and limitation of liability in Italy”