While the doctrine of equivalents exists in theory in most
Greek legal textbooks, judgments applying this theory in
practice are scarce in Greece. A recently issued judgment by
the Athens Court of First Instance in preliminary injunction
proceedings is an important addition to this rather small
number of judgments.
The dispute at issue arose when a foreign pharmaceutical
company filed a preliminary injunction application against a
Greek pharmaceutical company, which manufactured a
pharmaceutical solution for export abroad, claiming
infringement of its patented manufacturing process.
The defendant argued that its manufacturing process was
different highlighting, inter alia, a difference in the order
of the steps performed for the preparation of its
pharmaceutical solution compared to the patented process.
The Court was not convinced by the defendant's line of
defence. After providing an analysis of the doctrine of
equivalents theory, the judgment found that both processes
employ the same material and that the steps performed are the
same. The judge added that the main features of the invention
were present in both processes and that the change in the order
of the process steps by the defendant had no significance for
the final result.
A preliminary injunction was thus granted ordering the
defendant to cease any productive activity infringing the
patent, to recall the manufactured products and to provide the
claimant with all information necessary to identify any parties
involved in the distribution and marketing of the infringing
products abroad. Furthermore the Court ordered the provisional
seizure of any infringing products found in the possession of
the defendant or any other party deriving rights therefrom.
A further interesting aspect of this judgment is that the
products were not manufactured to be sold in Greece but were
only intended to be exported for sale in foreign markets. The
grant of a preliminary injunction against the manufacturer may
therefore constitute an effective strategy in preventing those
sales in a larger number of countries.
Patrinos & Kilimiris
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