2008 04 17 Dutch Cross Border Relief


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2008 04 17 Dutch Cross Border Relief

  1. 1. Cross-border relief in Dutch IP cases: cut back but not dead Wouter Pors, The Hague 17 April 2008
  2. 2. Types of cross-border cases <ul><li>Community trademarks and design rights: based on EC regulations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Unitary rights, so no GAT v. LuK issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Roche v. Primus does apply </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many examples of EU-wide Dutch injunctions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Patents: developments in ECJ and Dutch case law </li></ul><ul><li>Other national rights: little case law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Similar approach as for patent law likely </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. The four cornerstones <ul><li>Jurisdiction: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Brussels Regulation / CTM / CDR </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>National law v non-EU defendants </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Availability: lex fori </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Netherlands, Germany, UK (?) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Substantive law: lex loci protectionis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>EU law (Community trade mark, Community Design) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multilateral treaty (European Patent Convention) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Harmonized law (trade mark, design, data base, copyright) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Enforcement: Brussels Regulation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Generally not really a problem </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Risk of ordre public exception against preliminary injunctions </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Availability of cross-border relief <ul><li>Article 3:296 Civil Code: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anyone who is under an obligation versus another party to give something, do something or refrain from doing something will be ordered accordingly by the court when so claimed. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Dutch Supreme Court 24-11-1989, Lincoln v. Interlas : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In general there are no reasons to assume that this provision would not apply if an obligation is at stake that needs to be fulfilled abroad, even when it is subject to foreign law </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The situation at hand was a trade mark infringement in Belgium </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This judgment led to the very broad Dutch cross-border injunction practice, until jurisdiction issues kicked in </li></ul>
  5. 5. Jurisdiction issues <ul><li>Dutch approach: Court of Appeal 23-4-1998, Expandable Grafts v. Boston Scientific </li></ul><ul><li>Infringement and invalidity are separate claims </li></ul><ul><li>Jurisdiction should be decided separately </li></ul><ul><li>Invalidity: exclusive jurisdiction, only for Netherlands </li></ul><ul><li>Infringement: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cross-border jurisdiction against Dutch and non-EU defendants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Against EU defendants only if Dutch defendant is spider-in-the-web for the product or process involved </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Injunction abroad denied if patent abroad is likely to be invalid </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Validity issues <ul><li>Preliminary injunction granted cross-border if validity defence prima facie has little chance of success </li></ul><ul><li>Court of Appeal: preliminary injunctions should normally not be cross-border (fear of ordre public exceptions in case of enforcement abroad) </li></ul><ul><li>Supreme Court 19-3-2004, Philips v. Postech & Princo: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The rule of Lincoln v. Interlas also applies to preliminary injunctions, so no reason to be reluctant there </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Court of Appeal should change policy </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Validity issues 2 <ul><li>No injunction at all if Dutch part of patent invalidated </li></ul><ul><li>No final injunction but only an interlocutory injunction for other EU member states in full proceedings if Dutch patent upheld and validity action pending abroad, but not likely to succeed </li></ul><ul><li>Dutch Supreme Court 19-12-2003, Roche v. Primus : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The mere circumstance that there are serious indications that foreign parts of a patent are invalid does not need to prevent the court from granting an injunction as long as these foreign parts have not actually been invalidated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Also applies if Dutch part of patent is invalidated! </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. ECJ referrals <ul><li>Germany: GAT v. LuK , on jurisdiction when validity defence is raised </li></ul><ul><li>Netherlands: Roche v. Primus , on jurisdiction over foreign companies for non-unitary rights, such a patents </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Submission of the Dutch government: such jurisdiction should be granted generously in the interest of the industry, without limitations such as spider-in-the-web </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Judgment in both cases 13 July 2006 </li></ul>
  9. 9. Limitations of Roche v. Primus <ul><li>Article 6(1) of the Brussels Convention must be interpreted as meaning that it does not apply in European patent infringement proceedings involving a number of companies established in various Contracting States in respect of acts committed in one or more of those States even where those companies, which belong to the same group, may have acted in an identical or similar manner in accordance with a common policy elaborated by one of them </li></ul><ul><li>Reason: patents are not unitary rights, but a bundle of national rights </li></ul>
  10. 10. Ways out of Roche v. Primus <ul><li>Dutch Supreme Court 30-11-2007, Roche v. Primus : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The limitation does not apply to non-EU defendants (under pre 2002 reform national procedural law) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>However, GAT v. LuK does apply to such defendants </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Injunction is enforceable against EU assets of non-EU defendants (collection of penalties) </li></ul><ul><li>Pierre V é ron’s solution for Roche v. Primus (untested): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If the spider-in-the-web supplies to its subsidiaries, it infringes in the subsidiary’s jurisdiction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cross-border jurisdiction against the supplier under article 2 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This creates a sufficient connection under article 6(1) to sue all subsidiaries in the supplier’s home court </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Limitations of GAT v. LuK <ul><li>Limited scope of the question: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>13. By that question, the referring court seeks in essence to ascertain the scope of the exclusive jurisdiction provided for in Article 16(4) of the Convention in relation to patents. It asks whether that rule concerns all proceedings concerned with the registration or validity of a patent, irrespective of whether the question is raised by way of an action or a plea in objection, or whether its application is limited solely to those cases in which the question of a patent’s registration or validity is raised by way of an action </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Answer does not affect infringement: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>31. In the light of the foregoing, the answer to the question referred must be that Article 16(4) of the Convention is to be interpreted as meaning that the rule of exclusive jurisdiction laid down therein concerns all proceedings relating to the registration or validity of a patent, irrespective of whether the issue is raised by way of an action or a plea in objection </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Ways out of Gat v. LuK <ul><li>As indicated by the ECJ itself in Roche v. Primus : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>40. Finally, even assuming that the court seised by the defendant were able to accept jurisdiction on the basis of the criteria laid down by the national court, the consolidation of the patent infringement actions before that court could not prevent at least a partial fragmentation of the patent proceedings, since, as is frequently the case in practice and as is the case in the main proceedings, the validity of the patent would be raised indirectly. That issue, whether it is raised by way of an action or a plea in objection, is a matter of exclusive jurisdiction laid down in Article 16(4) of the Brussels Convention in favour of the courts of the Contracting State in which the deposit or registration has taken place or is deemed to have taken place (GAT, paragraph 31). That exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of the granting State has been confirmed, as regards European patents, by Article Vd of the Protocol annexed to the Brussels Convention </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Dutch court takes wrong turn <ul><li>District Court 9-8-2006, Sisvel v. Sandisk </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In the light of GAT v. LuK , article 22 prevents cross-border jurisdiction with regard to infringement as soon as the question of the validity of the foreign patents is raised by way of a counterclaim or a defence. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Massive criticism on weblog www.boek9.nl by Willem Hoyng and Wouter Pors: GAT v. LuK does not relate to jurisdiction for infringement </li></ul><ul><li>Court reconsidered its position </li></ul>
  14. 14. New Dutch approach <ul><li>District Court 21-9-2006, Bettacare v. H3 Products , confirmed in District Court 19-10-2006, Van Kempen v. Kuipers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>GAT v. LuK does not affect preliminary injunction proceedings, as validity is only assessed prima facie, not decided </li></ul></ul><ul><li>District Court 18-10-2006, Steur v/ Zilka </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No cross-border jurisdiction in full proceedings due to GAT v. LuK (confirmed several times until November 2007) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>District Court 15-11-2006, Comap v. Korver , confirmed in District Court 19-3-2008, Monsanto v. Cefetra </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cross-border jurisdiction in full proceedings, if invalidity is not invoked </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. New Dutch approach 2 <ul><li>District Court 7-3-2007 Fleuren v. Ruvo </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In full proceedings jurisdiction to issue interlocutory injunctions remains despite GAT v. LuK , as these only require a prima facie assessment of validity </li></ul></ul><ul><li>District Court 25-4-2007, Philips v. LG </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No, interlocutory injunctions are not allowed, since they are too closely connected to the request for permanent relief </li></ul></ul><ul><li>District Court 11-4-2007, SBM v. Bluewater </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In case of supplying essential parts for assembly in a country that has patent protection GAT v. LuK does not apply, but the court must suspend claim for injunction on export of parts if a validity case is pending in the target country </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Supreme Court’s interpretation <ul><li>Dutch Supreme Court 30-11-2007, Roche v. Primus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dutch procedural law pre 2002 reform does not require a connection similar to 6(1) Brussels Regulation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No ruling on new procedural law (usual approach) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>GAT v. LuK also applies to non-EU defendants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But validity issue does not affect jurisdiction regarding infringements; that remains cross-border </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If validity is raised, the court should rule on validity and infringement for the Netherlands, but it should suspend relief for other EU countries, if plaintiff requests to do so </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If plaintiff does not request such suspension, the court should reject the claims for relief abroad (but not jurisdiction) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No ruling yet on abuse of procedure argument (usual approach) </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Latest developments <ul><li>District Court 27-2-2008, Acco v. Noble </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ECJ case law also applies to post 2002 reform national procedural law and thus to non-EU defendants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Place of infringement does not create cross-border jurisdiction </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consequence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Idea behind Roche v. Primus also applies to non EU-parties? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not a sufficient connection for jurisdiction over co-defendants? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Comments: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There may be other grounds for jurisdiction, such as forum necessitatis (if it would be unacceptable to force plaintiff to bring suit in defendants home court) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pierre V éron’s idea has not been tested so far </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Latest developments 2 <ul><li>District Court 27-2-2008, Bettacare v. H3 Products </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Full proceedings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Court changes approach due to Supreme Court ruling and now does assume cross-border jurisdiction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bettacare is requested to inform the court whether they want suspension of cross-border part of the litigation </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Present situation: Roch e issue <ul><li>Cross-border jurisdiction cannot be based on connection between companies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Decided for EU-defendants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Likely for non-EU defendants </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Possible exception: spider is supplier? </li></ul><ul><li>Other grounds for jurisdiction may apply against non-EU defendants, such as forum necessitatis </li></ul>
  20. 20. Present situation: GAT v. LuK issue <ul><li>Cross-border relief available in preliminary injunction proceedings, regardless of validity defence, if patent is likely to be valid </li></ul><ul><li>Needs to be followed within 6 months by full proceedings, so injunction may last 6 months – 1 year </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-border jurisdiction to grant final and interlocutory relief in full proceedings </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-border relief in full proceedings cannot be granted if invalidity is raised until this is decided abroad </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-border part can be suspended at request of plaintiff, otherwise relief denied </li></ul>