BSH Hausgeräte v Electrolux. An opportunity for the CJEU to clarify reflexive effect of exclusive jurisdictional rules, and stays under Article 24(4) (intellectual property law).

I mentioned the pending case C-339/22 BSH Hausgeräte v Aktiebolaget Electrolux yesterday at our excellent (if I say so myself) Max Planck Institute – EAPIL – KU Leuven workshop on Brussels Ia reform. Questions referred, are

Is Article 24(4) [BIA] to be interpreted as meaning that the expression ‘proceedings concerned with the registration or validity of patents … irrespective of whether the issue is raised by way of an action or as a defence’ implies that a national court, which, pursuant to Article 4(1) of that regulation, has declared that it has jurisdiction to hear a patent infringement dispute, no longer has jurisdiction to consider the issue of infringement if a defence is raised that alleges that the patent at issue is invalid, or is the provision to be interpreted as meaning that the national court only lacks jurisdiction to hear the defence of invalidity?

Is the answer to Question 1 affected by whether national law contains provisions, similar to those laid down in the second subparagraph of Paragraph 61 of the [Swedish] Patentlagen (Patents Law), which means that, for a defence of invalidity raised in an infringement case to be heard, the defendant must bring a separate action for a declaration of invalidity?

Is Article 24(4) [BIa] to be interpreted as being applicable to a court of a third country, that is to say, in the present case, as also conferring exclusive jurisdiction on a court in Turkey in respect of the part of the European patent which has been validated there?

BSH hold a European patent relating to a vacuum cleaner. The patent has been validated in Austria, Germany, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and Turkey. Electrolux of Sweden has subsidiaries in a number of other Member States, such as Germany. A number of disputes have arisen between BSH and companies in the Electrolux group concerning the patent in question. Inter alia, the European patent validated in Germany was invalidated in 2020 by a German court at the request of a subsidiary of Electrolux. That judgment has been appealed.

On 3 February 2020, BSH brought an action against Electrolux before the Patents and Market Court in Sweden and claimed inter alia that Electrolux should be prohibited from using the patented invention in all the abovementioned States and ordered to pay reasonable compensation for the unlawful use. BSH also claimed compensation for the additional damage caused by Electrolux’s alleged patent infringement. Electrolux argue that the Court should dismiss the action in relation to the foreign parts of the patents. In its view the foreign patents are invalid and the Swedish court therefore lacks jurisdiction to hear infringement actions concerning those patents.

End of December 2020 the court agreed, citing A24(4) viz the EU patents (the claim being issued prior to Brexit implementation day, this includes the UK) and ‘an internationally accepted principle of jurisdiction’ (in essence, the Moçambique rule) viz the Turkish patent.

BSH of course appeal.

A asked students in the August resit exams how they think the CJEU should answer. On Q1 I would expect them to cite the need to interpret A24 restrictively, with reference to one or two cases confirming same (there are plenty); and the lack of solution in the Brussels Recast. Contrary to what Electrolux contend, a proposal to allow a court to merely stay the case pending the foreign court’s decision on validity, was never rejected. Such a proposal was never made. BIa merely confirmed CJEU Gat v Luk’s holding that exclusive jurisdiction kicks in regardless of whether the argument of invalidity is introduced as a claim of by way of defence.

On Q2 I would like to seem them argue something to the effect that national CPR must not infringe the effet utile of BIa. (Only) if the effect of the Swedish rules is that it requires the defendant to initiate IPR invalidity claims in all the relevant States, or lose its possibility of an invalidity defence, this would in my view run counter BIa’s intention and scope.

Finally, on the 3rd Q they should engage with the lack of BIa clarification on reflexive effect, other than in the strict confines of A33-34 and its related recitals. Relevant case-law of course includes Ferrexpo and Central Santa Lucia L.C. v. Meliá Hotels International S.A. Interested readers may wish to consult Alexander Layton KC’s most excellent paper on same. Some students may refer to the UPC developments and the jurisdictional consequences in Article 71 BIa (operational 2023?).


C – A Child. The Family Court rejects reflexive application of the Maintenance regulation’s lis pendens rules.

C (A Child) [2021] EWFC 32 involves an application brought by a mother (M) against the father (F) in relation to their daughter (C). M was born in Russia and is a citizen of Finland. Her mother and step-father live in France, where C was born in August 2014. F was born in Sweden and is resident in Monaco. Does the English court have jurisdiction to hear M’s application?

F had made his own, clearly pre-emptive application (ia involving a denial of fatherhood – later corrected by the DNA testing) in Monaco about a week earlier than M’s. That application is translated at [3] and it unfortunately illustrates the quasi inevitably acrimonious nature of these kinds of applications. In March 2021 the courts at Monaco declared they had jurisdiction for the father’s parentage and subsidiary maintenance claim. The father incidentally in late December 2020 also issued pre-emptive proceedings in Grasse, France, with a view to establish an EU court being seized prior to Brexit date.

F cites a wide variety of CJEU authority re the maintenance regulation’s forum shopping potential which eventually fails, inter alia for [47] it is the maintenance creditor, not the debtor, which the EU system aims to protect (reference also to Villiers v Villiers).

At 15 ff counsel for F argues reflexive effect of the Maintenance Regulation’s lis pendens rule, referring pro inspiratio to Ferrexpo. Munby J adroitly describes the theory of reflexive effect as being one of domestic, i.e. English law, not EU law. He rejects reflexive effect of the lis pendens rules, mostly [57] because of the very different nature of maintenance obligations. (For similar reasons he distinguishes [58] the Court of Appeal’s reflexive effect of the Lugano lis pendens rules in Privatbank – which in my view was wrongly decided).

Argument rejected therefore for reflexive effect of the EU Maintenance Regulation 4/2009.  Habitual residence of M was found to be in E&W, amongst an acrimonious parties’ to and fro on abusive forum shopping and maintenance tourism.

An interesting judgment.



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