Wednesday, 9 December 2009

German, but looking to be more American?

Last night's PatLit seminar, "Patent litigation in the US and Japan: what's the difference?", provided some fascinating insights into the Japanese approach to patent litigation. Our speaker Professor Toshiko Takenaka (Associate Director, Graduate Program in Intellectual Property Law and Policy Director, CASRIP), portrayed Japan as a country which, while operating a German-based civil law tradition, sought to graft on some of features of US law which evolved from its case-law jurisprudence. She also explained how, on account of its rapid industrialisation, Japan continued to view itself as a developing nation long after it had become a sophisticated industrial and technological power-house. With some minor qualifications, strong parallels could be drawn between the emergence of Japan as a patent-based jurisdiction two decades ago with the position of China today.

The seminar became quite participative at the point at which discovery (or 'disclosure' as we Brits must now call it), burden of proof and heads of damages were discussed. Comparing US and EU infringement remedies, Professor Takenaka raised the question whether the US law on damages was TRIPS-compliant, which left me wondering why so few UK intellectual property practitioners ever get sufficiently excited by TRIPS to read it.

Other features of the seminar included some very pleasant mince pies provided by the seminar hosts Olswang LLP (thank you!) and a raffle for the copy of Professor Takenaka's Patent Law and Theory: a Handbook of Contemporary Research (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2009), kindly provided by the publisher.

Professor Takenaka's PowerPoints, which go considerably beyond the scope of her talk last night, are available here.

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