Wednesday, January 15, 2020

German Ministry Proposes Amendment to Automatic Injunction Rule

Yesterday Germany's Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection released its draft of a proposed set of amendments to the German Patent Act.  (Hat tip to Professor Martin Stierle for calling this to my attention this morning.)  Of most interest to readers of this blog is a proposed amendment to § 139 para. 1, which would add the sentence in boldface:
Wer entgegen den §§ 9 bis 13 eine patentierte Erfindung benutzt, kann von dem Verletzten bei Wiederholungsgefahr auf Unterlassung in Anspruch genommen werden. Der Anspruch besteht auch dann, wenn eine Zuwiderhandlung erstmalig droht.  Der Anspruch ist ausgeschlossen, soweit die Durchsetzung des Unterlassungsanspruchs unverhältnismäßig ist, weil sie aufgrund besonderer Umstände unter Beachtung des Interesses des Patentinhabers gegenüber dem Verletzer und der Gebote von Treu und Glauben eine durch das Ausschließlichkeitsrecht nicht gerechtfertigte Härte darstellt.
In translation:
Any person who uses a patented invention contrary to sections 9 to 13 may, in the event of the risk of recurrent infringement, be sued by the aggrieved party for cessation and desistance. This right may also be asserted in the event of the risk of a first-time infringement.  The claim is precluded, insofar as the enforcement of a claim to injunctive relief is disproportionate because, due to special circumstances and taking into account the interest of the patent holder against the the infringer and the obligation to act in good faith, enforcement of the right of exclusion would present an unjustified hardship.
Note that the translation of the proposed new sentence is my own, very unofficial one. 

I may have more to say about this later today or later this week, after I've read some of the accompanying commentary to the draft bill.  Florian Mueller has already published a (strongly negative, because he thinks the proposal doesn't go far enough) post on FOSS Patents.  My own initial reaction is mildly positive; I was beginning to lose hope that the ministry would make any change in the direction of recognizing proportionality as a governing principle, and I am pleased to see that this draft explicitly mentions the concept.

Update:  The substantive discussion of the proposed amendment is mostly found at pages 50-54 of the discussion draft.  I will start plowing through that soon, and get back to you.

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