What are the key skills that top patent litigators should possess and how can these be honed?
As with litigation in general, a comprehensive knowledge of procedural law is of course crucial. Further, to succeed as a patent litigator in Europe, you must keep up to speed with how case law in the patent field develops – not only in your own jurisdiction and at the EPO, but also in other European Patent Convention countries. It is also vital to have an interest in digging into the details of the technology in each individual case. At trial, litigators must be on top of all technical aspects and details – and should never need to rely on a technician to present or counter arguments. To achieve the necessary amount of knowledge in this regard, patent litigators must ask the technical members of the litigation team a multitude of questions and be able to effectively suppress any and all tendencies to avoid asking what might appear to be ‘stupid’ questions.
You have litigation experience in matters including patents, copyright, trademarks and licensing. What tips can you share about how to remain at the forefront of industry developments when you have a broad IP-related practice?
In my experience, a broad IP practice is helpful for remaining at the forefront of industry developments. The broad nature of a practice means that you will be instructed by persons holding a variety of positions at the client end. If you have a sincere interest in learning more about your clients’ businesses, having a broad practice enables you to gain a corresponding broad insight into how different parts of the client’s company contribute to developments.
If you could make one change to the current patent regime in Sweden, what would it be and why?
In general, I am rather satisfied with the Swedish patent regime at present. The specialised courts that were established in 2016 – and their experienced patent judges – have been able to substantially cut the time from filing to judgment. Cases are now being decided on the merits by first-instance courts within one year from filing. Fortunately, the increased speed of the system does not seem to have affected the quality. Hence, any changes would be aimed at improving the details rather than the structure of the current regime. For example, I believe that there might be reasons to broaden the spectra of situations where appeals courts can – and presumably should – permit an appeal to the Supreme Court. Although the current system (which is basically a two-instance system) works well now, in the long run, the Supreme Court may need to step in periodically to ensure that the way in which patent law is being applied by the specialised courts remains sound and well balanced from a broader perspective.
From your experience, what does a well-run corporate IP group look like?
The most important thing is that the IP group is not isolated, but rather works closely with other departments, such as research and development and marketing.
If you were to give one piece of advice to someone beginning a career in patent law, what would it be?
Do not be afraid to think outside of the box.
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Peter Sande specialises in IP law and dispute resolution. He has vast experience in litigation concerning patents, copyright, trademarks and licence agreements. Mr Sande frequently participates in large-scale pan-European litigation and is often engaged as counsel in arbitral proceedings. He advises research-intense companies in regulatory and strategic matters and assists several clients in the entertainment industry. Mr Sande regularly speaks and writes on IP rights matters.
Click here to see his IAM Patent 1000 2019 profile.
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