The Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris in its 28 May 2010 decision, Institut Pasteur v Société Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, illustrates the specificity of the French doctrine of equivalents, rejecting the “file wrapper estoppel” theory as it is known in the US. However, since it applies the doctrine of equivalents although the function of the claimed means is not novel, this decision does not seem to be in line with the majority of decisions rendered on that item.

A 1 July 2009 decision of the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris illustrates how the French courts proceed when they are seised of a nullity claim of the French designation of a European patent against which opposition may be filed or opposition proceedings are pending.

In this case the Court of Appeal of Lyon affirmed the first French judgement granting an interlocutory injunction to prevent imminent infringement of a patent. The President of the First Instance Court had not considered any argument relating to the validity of the patent, and decided that in summary proceedings, only the existence of the…

In its 3 March 2010 decision, the Cour d’Appel of Paris, Division 5, Chamber 1, reversing the decision of the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris on this question, held that the authorisation to carry out a saisie-contrefaçon may be requested and obtained even after expiry of the patent, since the saisie-contrefaçon is intended to collect evidence of infringing acts committed prior to the patent expiry. This decision relating to the French saisie-contrefaçon will certainly be of interest to practitioners of other Member States of the European Union since Article 7 of EC Directive 2004/48, which had to be implemented into national laws before 29 April 2006, requires the Member States of the European Union to introduce into their national law “measures for preserving evidence” using as models the French saisie-contrefaçon and the Anton Piller order. This decision which finds no contradiction in Article 7 of EC Directive 2004/48 and which is essentially based on the evidential nature of the saisie-contrefaçon , may therefore be extended to the “measures for preserving evidence” set up into the laws of the different Member States of the European Union.

The divergences of solutions which can exist between the various national courts with respect to the various national designations of the same European patent could become a major obstacle to the circulation of the Euro banknotes throughout all Europe. The national designation of European patent EP 0 455 750, the holder of which – Document Security System – claims that it is infringed by the Euro banknotes, is held valid in Germany, Holland and Spain but invalid in Belgium, the UK, Austria and France. The invalidity is affirmed in France by the 17 March 2010 decision of the Cour d’Appel of Paris.

In the beginning of 2010, Merck Sharp & Dohme (hereafter “Merck”) and E.I. Du Pont de Nemours (hereafter “Du Pont”) on the one hand and Mylan on the other hand entailed in a fight concerning the launch of a generic version of Cozaar Plus®. The Supplementary Protection Certificate (SPC) of Cozaar Plus®, a combination product consisting of losartan and HCTZ, would expire on 15 February 2010, but Merck and Du Pont tried to prevent the marketing of generic versions of Cozaar Plus® by invoking the SPC for Cozaar®, the monoproduct consisting of Losartan only. In Belgium and France, this case led to very diverging judgments on the interpretation of the SPC Regulation.

In the UK, the signal “Another train coming” flashes when there is more than one railway line over an automatic crossing and another train is approaching. If you have avoided the first train, you must pay attention to the other train approaching not to be hit by it. We can take a similar warning from the order handed down on 12 February 2010 by the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris: the expiry of a SPC covering a combination of two active ingredients does not allow the exploitation of that combination if another SPC covering only one of those active ingredients is still in force: such exploitation infringes this SPC.