Friday, 7 August 2009

Exhaustion of patent rights in Switzerland: it's national, regional and global

When pondering your patent litigation policy in Europe, take note -- the mountainous and pharmaceutical patent-rich federation that is Switzerland has switched from national-only exhaustion of rights to European-style regional exhaustion, with effect from 1 July of this year. This unilateral move applies in respect of all patented goods imported into Switzerland from countries within the European Economic Area (i.e. the European Union plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein).

Right: have the Swiss made a mountain out of a molehill with their new exhaustion rules?

This not however the whole story: if the patent in question has only minor significance in relation to the functionality of the imported goods, the old international exhaustion rule still applies; further, patented goods with regulated prices [this looks like a euphemism for 'pharmaceuticals'] continue to be subject to national exhaustion.

The result of this is that Switzerland now appears to have the most complicated set of rules on exhaustion of patent rights of any country in Europe, and very possibly in the world.

Further details are available from PatLit's source: a note by Laurent von Niederhäusern (Froriep Renggli) for International Law Office.

No comments: