There are a number of unusual and interesting cases this month. Two cases at the Court of Appeal concerned misuse of confidential information and protection of trade secrets. In The Racing Partnership Ltd & Ors v Sports Information Services Ltd, concerning horseracing data, the judges were divided on the main issues before them, narrowly finding no misuse of confidential information but finding that the claim for unlawful means conspiracy succeeded. In Shenzhen Senior Technology Material Co Ltd v Celgard, LLC the Court upheld a first instance ruling in an interim proceeding granting a US company permission to serve a claim against a Chinese defendant in England and Wales and granting an interim injunction to restrain imports into the UK.
At the Patents Court, cases over standard-essential patents continue to preoccupy the judges. In Optis Cellular Technology LLC & Ors v Apple Retail UK Ltd & Ors, Mr Justice Birss found the patent at issue valid and essential to the 3G standard, the second time he has upheld this particular patent in the face of a validity challenge. The decision is notable for what the judge said about Agrevo obviousness. In a preliminary hearing in Mitsubishi Electric Corporation & Anor v Archos SA & Ors regarding 3G and 4G patents, Sir Alistair Norris had to rule on issues including the disclosure of confidential licences in FRAND litigation.
Mr Justice Meade’s first judgment as a full-time judge in the Patents Court concerned a patent for a pneumococcal vaccine (Merck Sharp & Dohme Ltd v Wyeth LLC). In a case in which the state of the common general knowledge proved decisive, he found the patent invalid for obviousness. Another complex case was Edwards Lifesciences Corporation & Anor v Meril GmbH & Anor, which concerned two patents for prosthetic heart valves: Mr Justice Birss found one of the patents partly valid, and infringed under the doctrine of equivalents (following Actavis and Icescape).
In the IPEC, there was an unusual case (Pliteq Inc & Anor v iKoustic Ltd & Anor) in which the judge, Miss Recorder Amanda Michaels, largely rejected trade mark infringement and passing off claims in a situation where the defendant was continuing to use the claimant’s trade marks while selling its own competing products.
The CJEU ruled in two trade mark cases, one concerning colour combinations in a dispute referred from Sweden, and the other concerning whether the sale of parts and services constituted ‘genuine’ use of the TESTAROSSA figurative mark.
In Brexit developments, the UK IPO and the government have provided further guidance on changes coming into force on 1 January 2021 affecting procedures and the courts, but there remains some uncertainty over protection for unregistered design rights. Meanwhile, the UK and Japan signed a FTA, which includes a provision for protecting geographical indications.
The IP/IT Briefing is part of the Bloomsbury Law Online Service. The full briefing is available here.