How can the European Patent system be designed more efficiently? How is patent litigation dealt with currently across Europe, and where will the on-going harmonisation process take us? These are some of the questions that were discussed by European intellectual property (IP) economists, lawyers, legal scholars and representatives of the European Commission at the SEEK Workshop "Patent Litigation in Europe - A Story of War and Settlement" in Brussels.
The workshop took place on November 22, 2012 at the Representation of the State of Baden-Württemberg to the European Union in Brussels. It was jointly organised by the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW), the Solvay Brussels School, the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and the University of Munich. It is part of a project within the framework of the research programme “Strengthening Efficiency and Competitiveness in the European Knowledge Economies” (SEEK). SEEK is funded by the German state of Baden-Württemberg and carried out by ZEW.
Dr. Katrin Cremers (ZEW) first gave an introduction to the research project, highlighting major goals and results of the study that aims at comparing the patent litigation systems of Germany, the United Kingdom, The Netherlands and France. Afterwards Dr. Luke McDonagh, researcher at the London School of Economics (LSE), presented a detailed insight into the UK system of patent litigation as well as main differences between Germany and the UK. In the subsequent panel discussion, four speakers addressed different issues regarding the on-going efforts to harmonise the fragmented national patent enforcement systems in Europe. First, Roland Küppers from the law firm Taylor Wessing presented insights on how the bifurcated German system provides an advantage to plaintiffs in litigation. Afterwards Andrea Liesenfeld from the Directorate General Internal Markets and Services gave an update on the current negotiations regarding the unified patent system. Sebstian Jeckel from the German Federal Ministry of Justice added further details on some of the key features of the currently proposed system that is expected to be voted on next year. As the final speaker, Fabio Domanico from the European Patent Office pointed out several problems of the fragmented system in Europe that are being tackled by the unified system as well as problems that may potentially remain unsolved. He further stressed the inherent importance of patent quality as the key to reducing the overall need for litigation. Concluding remarks were given by Dr. Georg Licht from ZEW and Tony Clayton from the UK Patent Office.