Düsseldorf, 23 January 2020 – The German government is preparing a new patent act. According to plans by Federal Justice Minister, Christine Lambrecht (SPD), the main purpose is to limit the potential for abuse. The Ministry of Justice's "Discussion Draft" provides for the possibility of injunctive relief to be classified as disproportionate in exceptional cases.
Many business representatives have long been calling for a modernization of patent law. The reason for this is primarily the increasing complexity resulting from digitalization: Networked components or the Internet of Things make products increasingly complex. As a result, companies sometimes have difficulties in clarifying all patent rights and acquiring the necessary licenses. This can lead to a large number of injunctions. A proportionality assessment should provide better protection for companies.
The procedural law is also to be changed with the new act: it is envisaged that infringement proceedings before the civil courts will be better coordinated with nullity proceedings before the Federal Patent Court. At present, one can expect nullity proceedings before the Federal Patent Court to take over two years, whereas quick infringement proceedings can be expected to take only one year. "Nullity proceedings before the Federal Patent Court take far too long in comparison", says Gottfried Schüll, patent attorney and partner of Cohausz & Florack. The possible consequence: an injunction is issued before the validity of the patent in question has even been decided on. "In order to shorten the duration of proceedings at the Federal Patent Court, however, the personnel situation and the structure of the Munich court must be significantly improved", Schüll continues. This is a core task of the legislative reform.
The Ministry of Justice has now presented the Discussion Draft to the other federal ministries and states. They have until the 10th of March 2020 to submit their comments.
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