On June 6, 2013, the German Oberlandesgericht in Düsseldorf issued its decision in the patent dispute between Agfa Graphics NV and Papier Union GmbH, the German dealer of Agfa’s Chinese competitor Chengdu Xingraphics Co. Ltd.
Papier Union initiated these appeal proceedings against the initial court ruling (Landgericht Düsseldorf – decision of November 22, 2011), where Papier Union was found guilty of infringement of Agfa’s patent EP823327. The Oberlandesgericht has now dismissed Papier Union’s appeal and thereby confirmed the first instance decision. The same outcome was also reached on January 29, 2013, in the parallel proceedings before the Dutch appeal court.
In summary, the appeal courts in both jurisdictions have decided that Agfa’s patent is valid and infringed by the local sales of the “FIT” digital printing plates of Xingraphics. Furthermore, the defendants were ordered to refrain from further infringement and to pay damages as well as a refund of legal expenses to Agfa Graphics. The injunction against further infringement not only applies to the mentioned “FIT” plates but also to any other positive thermal plate, which uses Agfa’s patented technology.
"This new court decision confirms that we have a strong patent portfolio and that our IP rights are well founded and relevant," says Stefaan Vanhooren, president of Agfa Graphics. "As a technology leader Agfa Graphics throughout the years has invested in developing and commercializing innovative solutions and we are serious about protecting our know-how against infringements."
These decisions reinforce Agfa's IP position against other printing plate suppliers that are trying to enter markets where Agfa Graphics holds relevant patent rights. "The Dutch and German courts have a high authority in patent matters throughout Europe. Both these decisions should be regarded as a clear signal that courts in other countries will likely reach the same conclusion, in the event Agfa initiates law suits against other competitors or their dealers who are not willing to conclude a satisfactory out-of-court settlement for the patent issues we are still discussing," says Rudi Goedeweeck, Agfa’s general manager, Intellectual Property.