Patent World, March 2001: The nineties have been trying times for patent litigants in Europe. Patent owners were rushing to Dutch courts to benefit from the 'rocket docket' and the cross border injunctive relief that is available there. At the same time possible defendants were racing to courts in one or more other jurisdictions to commence litigation that should wreck such a strategy.
The stakes for the litigants tend to be high with the game being about possibly wiping out an alleged infringer for most of Europe with one strike or having to 'step up to the plate' in up to 20 different jurisdictions. This hectic forum shopping game came to somewhat of a standstill with the judgement of the Court of Appeals at The Hague of 1998 in EGP v Boston Scientific.
There the Court of Appeals scaled back the possibilities for cross border jurisdiction of Dutch courts. This judgement was confirmed in two later decisions1 from the same court so that the new approach seems established. Although the situations in which a Dutch court has cross border jurisdiction are less than before, they still do exist and are certainly worth considering when available. Patent litigants should therefore stay on the alert and scout the 'jurisdictional terrain' in case a patent dispute may have international implications.