Why Germany is the patent litigation centre in Europe

Germany, Tech, Thought Provoking

Interesting article from the New York Times about why so many patent disputes are being fought out in German courts.

Joachim Henkel, a professor of management at the Technical University of Munich, said big international companies were often seeking to exploit the German system for strategic advantage.

Mr. Henkel said the prominent patent and intellectual property disputes in the mobile phone sector, which have also involved courts in Asia, Britain and the United States, were bogging down cutting-edge companies in court.

“All of these infringement cases in Germany, Europe, the United States and Asia are having a hampering effect on innovation globally,” Mr. Henkel said. “Usually, what masquerades as a patent dispute is in actuality a dispute motivated by business strategy.”

The process has turned the German patent courts in Mannheim, Düsseldorf and Munich into some of the most overworked in Europe.

There is no risk for bringing a patent action as the article states.

Unlike the German patent system, the American system gives judges the option of awarding proportionate damages instead of granting outright injunctions that ban sales of disputed products in cases where “irreparable harm” cannot be demonstrated.

In Germany, if a court determines that a company legally holds a patent, it can issue an injunction to ban competing uses if asked.

There is no option of granting proportional monetary damages.