Nampak Plastics Europe Limited v Alpla UK Limited, UK Court of Appeal, 9 October 2014 (Briggs LJ, Floyd LJ, Macur LJ), Case No.  EWCA Civ 1293
In the past applications for summary judgment in UK patent cases have rarely met with success: the Court must adopt the role of the ordinary skilled person to interpret the claims, common general knowledge and prior art, all of which requires expert evidence. However, in a recent judgment the UK Court of Appeal has issued a decision which is likely to make it easier to obtain summary judgment in certain patent cases.
Nampak is the proprietor of GB 2 494 394 which related to a design of a plastic milk container. Nampak commenced infringement proceedings in respect of Alpla’s “ECO 1” design. Alpla denied infringement and sought a declaration of non-infringement in respect of a proposed second design of the bottle, “ECO 2”. Nampak declined to give the declaration of non-infringement, and Alpla applied for summary judgment under CPR Part 24. In July 2014, the first instance judge (Birss J) allowed Alpla’s application and Nampak appealed, arguing that the judge was wrong to grant summary judgment without hearing expert evidence which would assist in determining issues of construction and infringement.