25 February 2007

Enforcement: English Patent Court Practice

Paragraph 7.9 (2) of PD63 requires claimants in the Patents Court to file a Reading Guide for the judge not less than 4 days before trial. Such Reading Guide must set out the issues, the parts of the documents that need to be read on each issue and the most convenient order that they should be read; identifying relevant passages in text books and cases, if appropriate. Paragraph 11 of the Patent Court Guide adds that parties should endeavour to produce a composite document setting forth the matters alleged to form part of the common general knowledge and, where they disagree, what that disagreement is.

According to Richard Miller QC, Mr Justice Pumfrey has complained that pre-reading estimates in patent cases are often unrealistic and therefore unhelpful. Practitioners have been reminded that the estimate should allow time for the judge to read the patent, the prior art, the expert's reports and evidence of fact, skeleton arguments, and any other key documents. A further allowance should be made where it is likely that some material may have to be read twice if the judge is to get a proper grip on it.

Time estimates in case management directions must specify the full length of the trial and distinguish between reading time and hearing time. A typical direction would read "...estimated length [number] days comprising [number] days pre-reading for the Judge and [number] days for the hearing".

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