Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Afga/Xingraphics: All Rather Vague in The Hague

Chengdu Xingraphics Co Ltd, a leading Chinese developer and maker of thermal printing plates and related chemistry, announced last week that it had successfully defended itself against patent infringement claims by Belgium-based Agfa Geveart BV. Agfa alleged that Xingraphics' FIT and FIT Xtra thermal plate technology infringed its European patent for a "method for making positive photosensitive lithographic printing plates" which Agfa acquired when it took over Mitsubishi-owned Lastra in October 2004.

Xingraphics argued that its technology not only fell outside the scope of the patent's claims but that it was superior to Agfa's in terms of its characteristics and its performance. Apparently Xingraphics has taken the step of indemnifying all its dealers worldwide against liability for patent infringement, as a demonstration of its confidence that it could resist Agfa's claims.

The Hague District Court has ordered the return of provisionally seized allegedly infringing inventory, plus legal costs.

According to Print Graphic News, the battle is not yet over, though:
"Agfa says, because non-infringement was not proven by Xingraphics either, the court could not grant Xingraphics' request for a declaration of non-infringement.

The court allowed Agfa Graphics to request additional seizures of Xingraphics plates in the future.

Agfa says they will now prepare the necessary additional evidence of the infringement of the Agfa Graphics patent in order to obtain a decision in favour of Agfa".
PatLit hopes for an explanation from some of its Dutch readers as to what is actually happening here. Although statements in the trade press are no more reliable than the press releases on which they are based, it looks as though we have something here which is the continuation of a dispute past the point at which a ruling has been given (and allegedly inventory returned) but which is not actually described as an "appeal". It all seems a little perplexing.

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