Wednesday, September 22, 2004

EU Patent Litigation De-Harmonization - The European Union's highest court may rule that member states can't impose orders blocking the use of a patent across the EU, a decision that would force companies to fight intellectual property suits separately in each country.

Europe-wide patent injunctions may be illegal under EU law, Leendert Geelhoed, an advocate general at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, wrote last week on a case involving two German makers of car parts. Such opinions are adopted by the court in about 85 percent of rulings.

The case highlights Europe's fragmented patent enforcement system. Without an EU-wide tribunal, companies such as Boston Scientific Corp. and Baxter International Inc. have used courts in the Netherlands or Belgium to block alleged infringers from marketing their products anywhere in the 25-nation bloc. A ruling in this dispute, expected next year, may put an end to that ad- hoc system and raise costs, lawyers said.

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