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NL – Becton Dickinson v. Braun Melsungen

14 Sep 2017

Becton Dickinson BV v. B. Braun Melsungen AG, District Court of The Hague, 6 September 2017, case no. 521541, ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2017:9997

This judgment of the District Court of The Hague concerns a nullity action lodged by Becton Dickinson B.V. against B. Braun Melsungen AG in relation to the (Dutch part of the) European patent EP 2 319 556, titled “needle tip guard for hypodermic needles” (hereinafter: the “Patent”). The Patent claims priority of three US patents and was granted on 24 April 2013. The Technical Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office in opposition proceedings initiated by Becton Dickinson GmbH maintained the Patent in unamended form in 2016. The Patent expired on 26 February 2017.

The District Court of The Hague in prior summary proceedings rejected Braun’s claim for a preliminary injunction on the basis of the Patent due to a lack of urgent interest on 17 June 2016 and Braun’s appeal to this decision was found inadmissable on 6 December 2016.

In the present case, the District Court of The Hague in its judgment first summarizes the various parallel proceedings in relation to the Patent. In Germany, the Düsseldorf Court on 16 December 2014 in proceedings on the merits granted an injunction on the basis of the Patent and appelate proceedings are pending. In nullity proceedings pending before the Bundespatentgericht in Munich, the Court in a preliminary opinion deems claim 1 of the Patent invalid due to a lack of novelty and inventive step. The Austrian Supreme Court, however, ruled on 21 February 2017 in summary proceedings that the Patent is valid and infringed. In Belgium, a preliminary injunction was granted by the Brussels Court on the basis of the Patent in December 2016 and proceedings on the merits are pending.

The District Court of The Hague in the present judgment comes to the conclusion that there is a case of added matter, as well as a lack of inventive step (explicitly rejecting the reasoning of the Technical Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office), and nullifies the (Dutch part of the) Patent.

Although it is not made entirely clear in the judgment whether the basis of the claims and arguments raised were the same (or similar) in each of the aforementioned parallel proceedings, this judgment illustrates the possibility of divergent outcomes under the current European patent litigation system.

The judgment can be read here (in Dutch).

Headnote: Tim Iserief, NautaDutilh