Thursday, July 22, 2021

Rantasaari on Wrongful Patent Enforcement in the E.U.

I've been working recently on a book proposal relating to wrongful patent enforcement--something I've been thinking about, off and one, for a long time (see, e.g., this post and thispost, both from 2013, the second of which cites Christopher Heath's important article Wrongful Patent Enforcement—Threats and Post-Infringement Invalidity in Comparative Perspective, 39 IIC 307 (2008)).  Anyway, just the other day I came across a new paper by Krista Rantasaari titled Abuse of Patent Enforcement in Europe:  How Can Start-Ups and Growth, 11 JIPITEC – Journal of Intellectual Property, Information Technology and E-Commerce Law 358 (2020).  Here is a link to the paper, and here is the abstract:

The aim of this article is to examine whether smaller companies have any adequate measures to defend themselves against abusive claims. Patent holders can assert their patents inappropriately, thus going against the functions of patents, and going outside the claims and boundaries of what is protected. This is more damaging for smaller companies as they have fewer financial resources. As a corollary, start-ups and growth companies must be able to defend themselves against abusive claims. This article evaluates the abuse of patent enforcement and analyses the abuse of rights principle, the abuse of dominant position, the Enforcement Directive (IPRED) and unjustified threats. The article analyses whether these elements provide tools for start-ups and growth companies when acting as defendants in patent infringement cases that could be considered abusive. The abuse of patent enforcement is increasing for several reasons, such as, the increase in the number of patents, the fact that they are becoming more valuable, the emergence of a growing market for the sale of patents, and the introduction of new entities specialised in patent licensing and litigation. The article argues that the elements presented in this study mitigate, to a certain extent, the potential ill effects of abusive legal proceedings. However, there are limitations and uncertainties; for example, the case law often only applies to specific circumstances, and national practices vary. As a corollary, these legal tools are rather complicated for start-ups and growth companies to apply.

The article provides a good overview of European law as it relates to the concepts of abuse of right, abuse of dominant position, and unfair competition/unjustified threats, as applied to allegedly abuse enforcement of patent rights.

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