A Preview of Injunctions/Raids Heaven in Europe With the Unitary Patent (Continent-Wide Bans and Embargoes by Patent Lawyers)
No safe haven for European SMEs, which may be innocent but not affluent enough to prove it in a so-called ‘unitary’ court
Whose regime is the EU striving to imitate?
Summary: Injunctions and raids in the United States (increasingly affecting small Chinese companies as well) serve as a reminder of the increasingly-aggressive borderless patent regimes (like the Unitary Patent Court)
ONE of our arguments against the Unitary Patent Court (UPC) is that it would not only increase damages, affecting a lot more European companies (as the accused/defendant/extorted for settlement), but that it would also cause bans on products from Europe, especially products that come from small companies that don’t have a legal department. China’s SIPO, as we showed here many times over the past year, increasingly adopts a USPTO-like model (where patent quantity, not quality, is emphasised, leaving all the actual examination work for courts to deal with at the price/cost/expense of thousands of dollars per day) and there are product bans too, based on EPO-funded media. It brags about “quick injunctions” as if banning a product before properly engaging in juridical review/overview is somehow great (it’s great for patent lawyers).
Last month we showed how a Chinese company had its products confiscated by a bunch of goons when they went to an expo in the US (CES) [1, 2, 3]. US Marshals raided a booth at a notoriously high-security (military-grade) event. Now, as it turns out, the process was somewhat of a sham. TechDirt explained it with the headline: “Remember How US Marshals Seized All Those ‘Hoverboards’ At CES In A Patent Dispute? The Company Has Now Dropped The Case” (probably because it lacked merit).
“Last month we showed how a Chinese company had its products confiscated by a bunch of goons when they went to an expo in the US (CES).”“Back in January,” explained TechDirt, “we wrote with some concern over the news that US Marshals had seized a bunch of one wheel scooters that everyone wants to call hoverboards, even though they don’t hover. The case involved a US company, Future Motion, that had gotten a lot of attention (and a utility patent and a design patent) on such single-wheel balancing scooters. Future Motion then sued a Chinese firm, Changzhou First International Trade Co., that was making a product that certainly looked similar. Changzhou was demonstrating its product at CES in Las Vegas, only to have the US Marshals raid its booth and seize all its products based on a 7 minute hearing in front a judge where Changzhou didn’t even get to present its side.”
Well, we too covered this at the time. The EPO-funded media (IAM) actually celebrated it, much as we have come to expect (we took note of this at the time). IAM will soon organise its EPO-funded pro-UPC event in the US. It’s an EPO project which broadens injunctions and makes these more severe. There are other associated issues, such as patent trolls, but this will be the subject of our next post. █