Accelerated UK proceedings can assist with legal proceedings elsewhere

In the UK it is possible to request that court proceedings are expedited and a
recent case has set out the issues to be considered in determining whether such a request can be granted.

Apple had brought infringement proceedings against HTC in Germany in respect of several patents and HTC had responded by filing an invalidity action in Germany and also in the UK. HTC applied for expedition of the UK proceedings so that the resulting decision could be used in Germany, because a decision by the UK courts can be persuasive in Germany.

The UK courts consider infringement and validity together, meaning that remedies are only available to the patentee if the patent is found valid and infringed. In Germany, however, infringement and validity are dealt with separately. Due to the fact that a German decision on infringement typically issues within a year, while a decision on validity takes about two years, in the event that infringement was found in Germany Apple could have enforced its rights until the invalidity decision was reached, thereby causing commercial damage to HTC even if Apple’s patents ultimately were found to be invalid. Therefore HTC was keen to expedite the UK proceedings so that an answer was reached on both infringement and validity. Apple argued that this was not a legitimate reason for requesting expedited proceedings in the UK, however.

In coming to a decision the High Court considered four factors: whether or not
there was a good reason for expedition; whether expedition would interfere with the good administration of justice; whether expedition would cause prejudice to the other party; and whether there were any other special factors.

Importantly, it was decided that the parallel German proceedings were a good
enough reason for expedition. However, HTC’s request for consideration of one
of the patents within three months was turned down, as it was concluded that
this degree of acceleration would unduly prejudice Apple.