Bird & Bird helps SME win major ‘David and Goliath’ patent case



Bird & Bird’s London IP team has successfully represented small companies Upcycle Holdings and Protomax Plastics in their hard-fought patent rights battle with public limited company Environmental Recyling Technologies (ERT).

Patrick Kelleher's Image

Somerset inventor Nick Stillwell, who owns Protomax Plastics, and his business partner Alfred Rodlsberger invented and patented a new process for moulding plastics, particularly waste plastic material. ERT sought to revoke the patent by starting proceedings in the UK High Court but Bird & Bird successfully secured the transfer of the case to the more appropriate Patents County Court. The Bird & Bird team, including partner Patrick Kelleher and associates Ewan Grist and Tasmina Goraya, then robustly defended the case via the PCC's streamlined procedure. In a judgment delivered on 5 February 2013, His Honour Judge Birss QC dismissed ERT's claim that the patent was invalid.

Speaking after the judgment, Mr Stillwell who likened the court’s decision to David’s victory over Goliath, said he welcomed the result which ended a long period of uncertainty affecting his ability to conduct his business on a day-to-day basis: "We were fortunate that Bird & Bird, who are usually only associated with companies the size of Microsoft, are interested in assisting more small companies through the PCC, and it is quite simply the fact that with a team like Bird & Bird on your side you can take on a much larger company on an even footing.

“From the moment Bird & Bird took control of our case we went from being on the back foot with the gun of litigation at our heads to confidently standing toe-to-toe with a plc. Being sued when you have done nothing wrong is stressful and confusing, and Bird & Bird stood with us and turned the case around from a possible defeat with huge costs liability, to a victory."

Patrick Kelleher commented: "It is particularly pleasing to represent a small company in litigation and to deal with an individual inventor like Nick Stillwell who has literally been losing sleep over this dispute. We often act for large multinationals in their global patent battles, and it’s important not to forget that small and medium sized companies are the bedrock of the economy and that they too have IP rights which need to be protected and enforced. The Patents County court is a perfect venue for that and this result shows that Bird & Bird has the experience and the expertise to run PCC cases leanly, proportionately and highly effectively."

See the judgement in PDF format >>