1. I mention in my book (p.244 n.104) that in Germany and Switzerland potential infringement defendants can "file, ex parte, a 'protective writ' (Schutzschrift) [also known in English as a "protective letter"] with a court in anticipation of a possible ex parte motion for a preliminary injunction on the part of a patentee. The writ explains why, in the defendant’s opinion, a potentially accused product does not infringe. The existence of the writ is not disclosed to the patentee unless and until the patentee moves for a preliminary injunction." Dr. Andreas Wehlau has written an entire book on the subject, Die Schutzschrift (Carl Heymanns Verlag 2011). Dr. Wehlau and Dr. Björn Kalbfus also discuss protective letters, in English, here, noting among other things that they are also used in the Netherlands and Belgium. Apparently they're trying the procedure out in France too, according to this article by Dominique Ménard.
Over the past few months, some of the patent law blogs have been discussing the question of whether the protective letter procedure is now available in Spain. PatLit published a post a couple of weeks ago, "Barcelona court allows filing of 'protective leter' by alleged infringer," that discusses what may be the first use of the procedure in Spain. (According to this post, the court in Barcelona requires that a patent owner who has sent the alleged infringer a warning letter be notified of the protective letter.) However, on October 17 the Kluwer Patent Blog published a post by Miguel Montañá titled "Protective Writs in Spain?" that discusses what sounds like the same case (and one other later case), and expresses some doubt that either case should be read as firmly embracing the procedure. Yet another write-up, by Manuel Lobato of Bird & Bird, seems to side with the position expressed on PatLit (and notes that "protective letters are also mentioned in the draft Rules of Procedure for the [Unified] Patent Court"--Rule 207, to be precise--so maybe we'll be seeing more of them in other European countries). I guess we'll see how future courts resolve the issue.
2. The December 2013 issue of the French IP journal Propriété Industrielle discusses (both in the introductory comments by Professor Christian LeStanc and in a longer article by Xavier Buffet Delmas d'Autane and Jules Fabre) a recent proposed law to combat the infringement of intellectual property rights. The proposal is available, in French, here. Of particular interest to me is the proposal to amend the damages provisions of the Code de la Propriété Intellectuelle. (The amendments read alike for patents, copyrights, trademarks, and other IP rights). For patents, the current text of the law, as amended in 2007, reads:
Pour fixer les dommages et intérêts, la juridiction prend en considération les conséquences économiques négatives, dont le manque à gagner, subies par la partie lésée, les bénéfices réalisés par le contrefacteur et le préjudice moral causé au titulaire des droits du fait de l'atteinte.Toutefois, la juridiction peut, à titre d'alternative et sur demande de la partie lésée, allouer à titre de dommages et intérêts une somme forfaitaire qui ne peut être inférieure au montant des redevances ou droits qui auraient été dus si le contrefacteur avait demandé l'autorisation d'utiliser le droit auquel il a porté atteinte.
This can be translated as:
For assessing damages and interest, the court takes into account the negative economic consequences, including loss of profit, suffered by the injured party, the profits realized by the infringer and the moral prejudice caused to the rightholder by the infringement.However, the court may, alternatively, upon request by the injured party, award damages as a lump sum that shall not be less than the amount of royalties or fees that would have been due if the infringer had requested authorization for the use of the right infringed.
(Thanks to my former research assistand Margaret Wade for suggesting some revisions to my original translation some months back.) The new law would amend this provision to read:
Pour fixer les dommages et intérêts, la juridiction prend en considération distinctement :« - les conséquences économiques négatives de la contrefaçon, dont le manque à gagner et la perte subis par la partie lésée ;« - le préjudice moral causé à cette dernière ;« - les bénéfices réalisés par le contrefacteur et, le cas échéant, les économies d'investissements intellectuels, matériels et promotionnels que celui-ci a retirées de la contrefaçon.« Si la juridiction estime que les sommes qui en découlent ne réparent pas l'intégralité du préjudice subi par la partie lésée, elle ordonne au profit de cette dernière la confiscation de tout ou partie des recettes procurées par la contrefaçon.« Toutefois, la juridiction peut, à titre d'alternative et sur demande de la partie lésée, allouer à titre de dommages et intérêts une somme forfaitaire. Cette somme est supérieure au montant des redevances ou droits qui auraient été dus si le contrefacteur avait demandé l'autorisation d'utiliser le droit auquel il a porté atteinte. »
I would translate this as:
For assessing damages and interest, the court takes into account distinctly:the negative economic consequences, including loss of profit and the loss sustained by the injured party;the moral prejudice incurred by the latter;
the the profits realized by the infringer and, where appropriate, the savings of intellectual, material, and promotional investments which the latter has derived from the the infringement.
If the court determines that the resulting amounts do not make good the entirety of the prejudice suffered by the injured party, it orders to the profit of the latter the confiscation of all or part of the revenue procured by the infringement.
However, the court may, alternatively, upon request by the injured party, award damages as a lump sum. This amount is higher than the royalties or fees that would have been due if the infringer had requested authorization for the use of the right infringed.
According to Messrs. Buffet Delmas d'Autane and Fabre, these remedies provisions are the most ambitious part of the proposal. They also predict there will be debate over the meaning of the terms "entirety of the prejudice" and "revenue"; and while they believe that judges have been to reluctant to apply the new rules for calculating damages permitted under the 2007 revision and therefore that the proposal is a step in the right direction, they note that some will regret that it doesn't mention taking into account the infringer's bad faith. There also are proposed amendments relating to customs and to saisies-contrefaçon.
It appears that the French Senate has passed the proposal, see here. The next step is the National Assembly, see here.
3. Thorsten Bauch and Anja Petersen-Padberg recently published a couple of interesting items on the Kluwer Patent Blog. The first is "New Regulation on Customs Action as of 1 January 2014: In a Nutshell, Important Changes in View of Patent Rights," available here. The authors write that "Patent practitioners should note that national utility model and future unitary patents are also covered by this new Regulation." Until now, the EU regulation on border measures did not extend to utility models, although German law did; see my book p.249 n.120. The second is titled "Enforcement of IPR at German Trade Fairs--The Long-Standing 'On-Call Duty' of the RC Braunschweig," available here. According to this post, "With regard to these important trade fairs and many more taking place in Hanover, the presiding judge of the specialized chamber for patent, utility model, design and trademarks at the Regional Court Braunschweig and his team are prepared to receive requests for provisional injunctions as of 7:00 am as well as on Saturdays and Sundays, depending on the schedule of the trade fair. The court is even willing to hold a hearing at the exhibition site."
4. The EPLaw Blog has two interesting recent posts, one on a recent grant of a preliminary injunction in the Netherlands (Unilever v. Procter & Gamble), and another by Sabine Agé on a recent French case (HTC v. Nokia) holding that a party requesting a saisie-contrefaçon "has no obligation to put forward any and all defences and arguments that the defendant may raise on the merits; it should only disclose those legal and factual circumstances which might have an influence on the decision to grant the saisie order."
5. On Bloomberg BNA World Intellectual Property Report (available here, but behind a paywall), C. Leon Kim of FirstLaw PC, Seoul, has published an article titled "Korean Presidential Council Announces IP Adjudication Reform, KIPO Introduces Changes to Patent Act." Of most immediate relevance to patent remedies is the announcement of a "judicial reform plan to consolidate all IP litigation cases of first instance under the jurisdiction of two designated district courts and all appeal cases to be heard by one appellate court." Also interesting is KIPO's announcement that "a computer program per se is expected to become patent eligible in Korea from 2014." This seems to be going against prevailing sentiment in some other parts of the world these days, e.g., Germany (see here) and New Zealand.
6. For the last several months, I've been aiming to blog approximately three times a week. With my teaching responsibilities resuming this month, starting next week I plan to blog only twice a week for the next few months--most likely Mondays and Thursdays--though I will chime in more frequently, as needed, if and when something of particular importance (e.g., an important Supreme Court case) comes down. Of course, most of what I blog about is relevant to my research and teaching, so I will continue to keep abreast of new developments in the comparative law and economics of patent remedies, even if I am a little less prompt in posting.