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TNA wins extensive patent case

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The long legal battle by Australian packaging machinery company TNA’s founder Alf Taylor against international packaging heavyweight Ishida has finally come to an end.

This extensive litigation between TNA and Ishida, in relation to Ishida’s Apex and CBM2 bagmakers, started in September 1998.

Proceedings were commenced in the UK Patents Court (part of the High Court of Justice) against Ishida (Europe) Ltd. and Ishida Co. Ltd. claiming that the patent relating to the revolutionary rotary stripping and sealing mechanism employed on TNA’s Robag vertical form-fill-seal (VFFS) packaging machines, had been infringed by Ishida’s Apex and CBM2 bagmakers.

Alf Taylor spelt out the history of the litigation for Packaging magazine.

He said the hearing of the claim against Ishida Europe and Ishida Japan took place in the Patents Court in London during May and June 1999 and on July 30, 1999 the patent was held to have been infringed by both of Ishida’s machines.

As a result of the Patents Court judgment an injunction was granted against both Ishida Europe and Ishida Japan, restraining them from undertaking a number of acts including making, using, selling or offering for sale the Apex or CBM2 machines in the UK and both companies were ordered to deliver up or destroy all infringing assemblies in their possession or control in the UK. (Pending an appeal by the defendants, these orders did not come into effect immediately).

The court also ordered both companies to pay damages, or an account of profits, as well as the costs of the proceedings. As a consequence of their conduct in the proceedings, part of the costs were awarded at a higher level, Taylor said.

In December 1999, Ishida filed an appeal against the Patents Court decision which was heard in the UK Court of Appeal in June 2001. On July 12, 2001 the court unanimously dismissed the appeal and awarded costs. The Court of Appeal judgment represented a total victory over Ishida as the Court upheld every aspect of the original judgment.

In August 2001, Ishida made a last ditch attempt to appeal the earlier decisions by filing a Petition for Leave to Appeal to the House of Lords, England’s highest Court, which sought to overturn the decision of the Court of Appeal.

In April 2002, the Appeal Committee of the House of Lords refused Ishida’s petition and ordered Ishida to pay the costs of the petition.

Taylor said that after Ishida had exhausted its avenues of appeal, damages resulting from its infringement were sought and, finally in October 2003, some five years after the proceedings were initially commenced, Ishida agreed to settle the damages claim prior to trial (which was due to take place in December 2003).

Overall, including legal costs, he said, Ishida ended up paying in excess of £2.6 million (AU$6.5 million) (not including its own legal costs) as a consequence of its infringement of the patent.

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