Geofabrics lays the tracks for large-scale damages inquiries within the UK

Geofabrics Restricted v Fiberweb Geosynthetics Restricted [2022] EWHC 2363 (Pat)

Geofabrics Restricted (“Geofabrics”) has been awarded £13.4 million in damages for patent infringement, concluding a 5 12 months lengthy dispute with Fiberweb Geosynthetics Restricted (“Fiberweb”).  Damages inquiries are uncommon within the UK so this judgment from Charlotte Could KC (sitting as a Deputy Excessive Court docket Decide), which offers a wonderful abstract of the Court docket’s strategy to the evaluation of damages in patent circumstances, is a should learn.

The inquiry adopted a profitable infringement case introduced by Geofabrics in relation to its patent for a geosynthetic railway trackbed liner (“the Patent”). The liner addressed a typical downside with railways generally known as “pumping erosion”. Each at first occasion and on attraction, the Court docket held that Fiberweb’s rival product Hydrotex 2 infringed the Patent. Hydrotex 2 was marketed from 2012-2021 in direct competitors to Geofabrics’ Tracktex product. Previous to the damages inquiry, Geofabrics elected for damages on the premise of:

  • misplaced income on misplaced gross sales of Tracktex;
  • misplaced income on historic gross sales of Tracktex because of value competitors from Hydrotex 2;
  • misplaced income on future gross sales of Tracktex because of ongoing value melancholy brought on by Hydrotex 2’s cheaper price; and
  • curiosity.

The evaluation of damages proceeded on the premise of a counterfactual state of affairs by which, for the related interval, the one trackbed liner available on the market was Geofabrics’ Tracktex.  Nevertheless, the decide made it clear that this evaluation shouldn’t be able to exact estimation however that the Court docket ought to nonetheless do one of the best it might with the supplies accessible to it. The decide additionally confused that the burden lies on the claimant to show its loss regardless of these uncertainties.

A few of the key points thought-about within the counterfactual included:

  1. Causation and remoteness of injury – it’s not sufficient for the claimant to indicate that “however for” the infringement, the harm wouldn’t have occurred, and as an alternative, the claimant should display that the defendant’s infringing acts had been a trigger of the loss;
  2. Lack of an opportunity – when assessing damages resting on hypothetical occasions, damages needs to be awarded which are proportionate to the possibilities of the occasion occurring; and
  3. The suitable quantity of curiosity – the aim of curiosity is to compensate the claimant for being saved out of the monies as a consequence of them by means of damages, slightly than to punish the defendant.

This judgment serves as a reminder, and maybe a warning, of the complexity that may be present in damages inquiries, with all method of things and proof being taken under consideration – from the theoretical manufacturing capability of Geofabrics, to financial savings that Geofabrics comprised of precise employees redundancies that may not have occurred within the counterfactual.

Having set out the legislation, the decide turned to the seven excellent points between the events and regarded every within the context of the counterfactual. In doing so, the decide discovered that:

  • Geofabrics wouldn’t have entered right into a much less worthwhile unique distribution settlement;
  • all gross sales of Hydrotex 2 would in any other case have been gross sales of Tracktex;
  • the worth and value will increase of Tracktex needs to be decided by reference to every particular buyer and the market dimension;
  • the quantity of damages needs to be diminished because of redundancies made by Geofabrics which resulted in prices financial savings;
  • Geofabrics did lose income on gross sales of Tracktex after the withdrawal of Hydrotex 2 from the market as a consequence of continued value melancholy;
  • the lack of income attributable to 1 explicit business deal was too distant for damages to be given; and
  • curiosity 2% above the Financial institution of England base charge needs to be awarded

Having made these findings, the events agreed that it was not obligatory for the Court docket to learn to function the monetary fashions which had been developed by the events’ specialists nor to succeed in a willpower of the ultimate damages award as a part of the judgment. As a substitute, events’ specialists used the decide’s findings and did their very own calculations to reach at a closing damages award of £13.4 million.

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