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Wednesday, 21 January 2009

A question of timing

Who says that members of the judiciary are insensitive to the commercial reality of the world in which their judgments take effect? On Monday, in Schlumberger Holdings Ltd v Electromagnetic Geoservices AS, a patent validity dispute, Mr Justice Mann (Patents Court, England and Wales) was informed that the dispute -- involving the validity of three patents -- was highly price sensitive. This was because the judge's decision could affect the valuation of Electromagnetic Geoservices, a Norwegian company, on the Oslo stock exchange. The judge was asked, and agreed, (i) not to take the normal course of providing a judgment to the parties in draft before handing down the finalised version but instead to deliver his decision on notice to the parties and to provide a written judgment on that occasion and (ii) to do that at a point in the day after the Oslo stock exchange had closed (hence "the timing of this excercise, at 4.30pm", GMT). The judge added:

"For the avoidance of doubt, the substance of the judgment, and in particular this summary, is available for public and can be made available to third parties. In the event of any conflict between this summary and my judgment, the latter prevails and is authoritative".
The IPKat is reliably informed that Mann J's summary was available in court to anyone who asked, and that there were many people in the public gallery.

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