Monday, 9 May 2011

Same-day suits in different courts: some questions

This member of the PatLit team has just been asked some questions and he doesn't offhand know the answer. The scenario runs thus:
"I [in this instance "I" is a microcompany with very limited funds] instituted patent infringement proceedings in the Patents County Court against a much larger company. Later but on the same day as I had instituted proceedings, the defendant instituted proceedings against me in the Patents Court -- which is part of the High Court and a very expensive place to litigate -- seeking a declaration of non-infringement and/or revocation of my patent.  I believe that I can apply to the Patents Court to have the defendant's action transferred to the Patents County Court, though I understand that this will take time and consume a proportion of the money available to me to bring the infringement proceedings in the first place".
The questions to be sharedI'd like to share with readers of this weblog are as follows:
1. Is there any Patents County Court or Patents Court Rule which specifically provides for a situation such as this?

2. Are all proceedings which are commenced on the same day regarded as being commenced simultaneously, or would the fact that the Patents County Court proceedings were commenced first be significant?

3. Would it make any difference if the defendant had instituted proceedings for a declaration of non-infringement and/or revocation before the patent owner commenced his proceedings?

4. Would it make any difference if the defendant had knowledge of the proceedings commenced by the patent owner in the Patents County Court when commencing proceedings in the Patents Court?

5. What would be the patent owner's best and/or most economic strategy for seeking to keep all proceedings before the Patents County Court?
Do please post your comments below or, if you cannot do so for technical or other reasons, please email them to me here with the subject heading "Same-day patent suits".

1 comment:

Filemot said...

CIPA set up a pro bono committee for assisting patent litigants who were unable to seek professional advice, it would seem a good idea for this litigant to seek support from the secreatary there or from the Bar Pro Bono Unit which has grand offices in Chancery Lane.

Clearly the litigant can ask the Patents Court proceedings to be transferred and he can do this in writing.

If your correspondent were to have even a modest representative, it is likely that the solicitors acting for the anniversary would be amendable to agree such a transfer. They should do so without, but I do rather sympathise with professionals having to deal with litigants in person and it isn't any easier for the courts. This isn't America, costs can be recovered and the use of a representative does ensure that your correspondent has some independent advice of the chances of a successful outcome.

Of course, if your correspondent is unrepresentable and would be denied assistance by the pro bono unit or any qualified professional, it's probably not a great idea for this blog to be used to encourage litigation, but Heaven forfend that this should be the case.