Injuncting multiple infringers

Injuncting multiple infringers

The issue

Our client, BASF, is the world’s largest chemical company. It holds a large number of patents for a range of chemical compounds, including around 200 patents for agrochemical compounds. Although the issues in this example relate to the agrochemical sector, the problems faced also occur in the pharmaceutical sector.

Our client discovered that a number of Chinese chemical manufacturers were planning to offer, at the world’s largest agrochemical conference (the Crop Science and Technology conference in Glasgow), infringing chemicals for sale in the UK. BASFs objectives were:

  • to prevent the Chinese companies from advertising and selling infringing products at the conference; and
  • to ensure that maximum publicity was obtained in order to discourage others from infringing its patents.

How we helped achieve our client’s goals

The most important issue was to act quickly once the conference had begun, since it lasted only 3 days and injunctions would clearly be of little value if only obtained after the conference had ended. It would be necessary to attend the conference to gather relevant evidence confirming our clients suspicions, but we also ensured that all other aspects of the preparation were put in place well before the conference started. By perusing the conference attendees’ websites, we could look at the range of chemicals offered worldwide and identify which companies were likely to infringe, and which patents were likely to be infringed. All the evidence relating to the particular patents in issue, and the likely damage that would be suffered by BASF if the infringements took place, was also put in place.

During the conference, acting in conjunction with a Scottish law firm (proceedings were subject to Scottish law owing to the location of the conference), we successfully obtained injunctions against 19 different companies which were offering one or more of four different patented agrochemical compounds for sale. The injunctions required the companies to stop offering the relevant products and remove all references to the products from their brochures. Two of the companies refused to comply and were ejected from the conference by the conference organiser.

The result was highly successful for BASF. A number of journalists were present at the conference, and the action was reported by a number of media organisations, including the Financial Times and BBC Radio. In addition to preventing sales of infringing goods, the action also served to publicise the fact to would-be infringers that BASF will take all appropriate action against infringers of its patents.