Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Swiss patent litigation reform

"New Developments In Swiss Patent Law", an article by Andrea Mondini, and Philipp Groz (Schellenberg Wittmer, Zurich) last month in IP Frontline, reviews the structure and functionality of the Swiss court system as it affects patent litigation. The authors explain that, with around 30 patent proceedings a year, split between the 26 Swiss cantons, most cantonal courts of first instance have only little practical experience in patent litigation and are not presented with enough opportunities to develop the necessary technical and legal expertise (most of the 30 are split between just four of those cantonal courts anyway). This has led to the concentration of the jurisdiction for patent cases into a single specialized court, a move which is also expected to make Swiss patent litigation swifter and more attractive to those for whom the prospect of forum-shopping is available.

The new Patent Court Act (PatCA) creates a special federal trial court with exclusive jurisdiction over all Swiss disputes regarding validity and infringement, as well as applications for pre-trial relief. Related disputes, such as those involving royalty payments, may be brought either before the new court or, as before, to a cantonal court. The court will designate one of Switzerland's three official languages (German, French and Italian) as the language of the proceedings, though. another official language may be used for for submissions and oral arguments. With the consent of the court and the parties, English may also be used. The creation of the Federal Patent Court does not affect the parties' freedom to submit patent disputes to arbitration.

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