4iP News

Assessing patent quality though the success rates of nullity suits

23 March 2017

4iP Council presents summary of work by Prof. Dr. Christoph Ann, LL.M (Technical University of Munich)


This article by Prof. Dr. Christoph Ann, LL.M (Technical University of Munich) summarisies his work assessing patent quality though the success rates of nullity suits.

Germany is one of Europe’s most important patent centres: as regards patent grants and also as regards patent infringements. This may be why the German patent scene in the last two years has been looking at the success rates of nullity suits filed with the German Federal Patent Court (BPatG) – under two different aspects: In 2014, a first legal article concentrated on the problem of lack of legal certainty for patent holders and on investment risks posed by the seemingly boundless possibilities for challenging patents in nullity proceedings. The article calls for these risks to be addressed more carefully, not to the least in view of Art 14 German Grundgesetz (GG), which safeguards the right to property. Another article from the same year, motivated more along the lines of innovation theory, took success rates as a reason to fundamentally criticise patents under the provocative title “Why most patents are invalid”. This article scrutinised both, individual points within the criticism, as well as allegedly far-reaching conclusions regarding patents at large. According to industry reports, these conclusions have been affecting patent value, and they also may pose a threat to the system as such – unjustly so, as this article shows.

Patent invalidation and legal certainty

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