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NL – Tata Steel v. Arcelormittal / Appeal

18 Jan 2018

Tata Steel IJmuiden B.V. v. ArcelorMittal France, Court of Appeal The Hague, The Netherlands, 19 December 2017, Case no. CLI:NL:GHDHA:2017:3951

Tata Steel appealed the earlier judgment between parties (a copy can be found here). In the first instance judgment, it was ruled that Tata Steel has a legitimate interest in a negative declaratory judgment -even if there is no specific product yet- in view of the huge investments it is about to make. The actual negative declaratory judgment was denied on factual grounds.

On appeal Tata Steel confirmed that it has not yet marketed a product that could fall within the scope of Arcelor’s patent.  The Dutch Supreme Court ruled earlier that a negative declaration relating to acts that not yet have taken place is not described sufficiently specific and should be denied if it is formulated in such a way that not in all cases described there will be no infringement and/or an unlawful act, or if it is not possible to investigate this based on the facts and circumstances of the case.

With reference to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Court of Appeal rules that Tata does not have a legitimate interest in a negative declaratory judgment and quashes the first instance judgment.

A copy of the judgment can be read here.