On Friday 2nd April 2015 as announced on the UPC Blog, the « Union pour la Juridiction Unifiée des Brevets » organised a second mock trial replicating the Unified Patent Court. (Find here our post on the first UPC mock trial organised by the UJUB). It was with great pleasure that the UPC Blog editorial team attended this mock, which once more offered a remarkable insight into the functioning of the UPC and gave substance to its rules of procedure and to the UPCA.
The afternoon was divided into three sessions:
- Hearing on request to preserve evidence and inspection of the premises
- Hearing on the application for provisional measures
- Court delivered its judgment
I. The Facts:
This second mock trial opposed a US company “3 Abrasive” (the Claimant) and a French company “La Toilemeri” (the Defendant) over an infringement action of a European patent for “flexible abrasive”.
The patented invention was described in details as “a method for manufacturing an abrasive member comprising a flexible sheet with a multitude of discrete metal protuberance wherein a multitude of copper protuberance are formed on the flexible sheet, nickel protuberances are electrodeposited over the copper protuberances in the presence of particulate abrasive material so that the particulate abrasive material becomes embedded in the nickel deposits and wherein the voids between the protuberances are at least partially filled with resin material, the resin material being selected so as to reduce lateral movement of the nickel deposits.”
This patent is “valid and in force in the Contracting States designated by the Patent, including France, Germany, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and Sweden. All the Designated Contracting States of the Patent have ratified and implemented the UPC Agreement.”
The patent was also the subject of an opposition proceeding in the European Patent Office. In a decision dated 3 September 2014, the opposition division however had rejected the opposition and decided that the patent be maintained as granted. At the time of the mock trial, an appeal was pending before a Board of Appeal.
3 Abrasive alleged that La Toilemeri, the Defendant advertised a product on its website whose characteristics could only be obtained with the method developed in 3 Abrasive’s patent. La Toilemeri, in fact marketed a product described as “an excellent lateral bearing of the abrasive patches, a reinforced securing of the abrasive patches onto the support.”
Following this discovery, 3 Abrasive decided to engage an infringement action before the UPC local division in Paris since no application for opt-out had been made and La Toilemeri is domiciled in France. The Statement of claim was filed on 13 October 2014 in English, which under Art 49(2) UPCA, is one of the official languages of the EPO that the Paris local division accepts.
La Toilemeri filed a defence on 18 December 2014 “challenging any evidence of infringement” and a counter claim for revocation of the Patent. Simultaneously, the Defendant filed an Intervention in the Appeal procedure, which had been initiated at the EPO on 21 November 2014 by a third party. The Defendant, also requested the Court that, under the provisions of Rule 298, the appeal procedure at the EPO be accelerated and to stay its proceedings pending the outcome of the EPO appeal.
The local division in Paris:
The Panel of the local division in Paris comprised three judges: Mr Paul Maier (FR), President, Mrs Sophie Canas (FR) and Mr Colin Birss (UK), who was also appointed in October 2014 as the Judge Rapporteur (following Rule 18).
According to Article 33 (3)(a) UPCA the Court then decided to keep the applications for infringement and revocation together and Mr Kim Finnilä (FI) was subsequently allocated to the panel as technically qualified judge.
II. Application for preserving evidence and inspection (The application can be seen here p 89 of the binder):
Following La Toilemeri’s statement of defence, in which it insisted that 3 Abrasive did not have any evidence of the alleged reproduction of 3 Abrasive’s method of manufacturing, 3 Abrasive decided to file on 29 December 2014 an application for preserving evidence (Rule 192) with a request of an order for inspection at the premises of La Toilemeri, near Paris.
3 Abrasive also requested the Court to issue this order without hearing the Defendant so as to avoid any risk of the evidence disappearing.
The inspection was granted (the decision of the court can be seen here at page 99 of the binder) and revealed that:
- The fabrication process of nickel mixed with diamond powder was effectively electro deposited through a layer of non-woven fabric, which thus matched 3 Abrasive’s patent. This was confirmed by a test report.
- A distribution agreement for the product in Europe with commercial indications.
III. Application for provisional measures (The application can be seen here at page 119 of the binder):
After 3 Abrasive spotted that La Toilemeri had announced on its website that it would launch its product at an international exhibition in Paris in May 2015, it applied under rule 206 for provisional measures. La Toilemeri filed observations against this application (which can be seen here at page 142 of the binder).
IV. Judgment of the Court:
While the Court was deliberating the participants were asked to vote, and by a large majority decided that 3 Abrasive should not be granted the provisional measures it was requesting against La Toilemeri. The Court however decided to grant 3 Abrasive the injunction it was requesting.
The slides explaining the technical elements of the case and the relevant UPC articles and rules can be found here.
The UJUB has dedicated a website to this second mock trial on which notably the video of the whole trial can viewed. This will give a great insight into the functioning of the UPC for those who could not attend or stream the trial. You will also find the whole synopsis and the presentation of the different “actors”.