Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Litigate patents in Northern Ireland? Yes, it can be done

This weblog is indebted to PLC for bringing its attention to a most unusual event: the litigation of a patent infringement claim before the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland (Chancery Division).  The judgment of Mr Justice Deeny in this case, Siemens AG v Seagate Technology (Ireland) [2011] NICh 12, 14 June 2011, can be read in full here.

Why was the action brought in Northern Ireland? That province was the only part of the United Kingdom with which the alleged infringement had any connection since the defendant, Seagate, had a factory in Springtown, County Derry, which made semiconductor wafers for hard drives that were exported to the Far East for assembly. Northern Ireland does not have a specialist intellectual property court and, while, some local legal practitioners have acquired some experience of intellectual property dispute resolution, both parties were represented by barristers from England and Wales (the defendant's leading counsel was Colin Birss QC, now Judge Birss in the Patents County Court).

The judge acknowledged that he was new to the field. He also said, giving judgment about a year after the hearing ended:
"I regret that shortage of judicial manpower and the greatly increased workload in the Chancery Division have prevented a judgment until now".
For the record, the judge was of the opinion that the patent was obvious and that, in any event, it did not cover Seagate's product. 


Anonymous said...

Small point but the county is called County Londonderry. Grieves me when legal reports contain avoidable mistakes.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 14:27
It's not an avoidable mistake but a political statement. Grieves me when political statements are called avoidable mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Grieves me when anyone give a toss about what it's called. I'll go anonymous too - seems the right thing to do in the circumstances.