Bristows beats patent judgment

Bristows has succeeded where Bird & Bird failed and become the first firm to overturn a certificate of validity for a patent in the High Court.


Mr Justice Laddie overturned his own decision on Coflexip’s vertical lay systems patent, the method and apparatus used for laying undersea pipes and cables.

Judge Laddie had previously held in the same court, upheld in the Court of Appeal, that the patent was valid and infringed by Stolt Offshore, a client of Bird & Bird.

Bristows challenged the patent on behalf of client Rockwell, part of the Halliburton Group, causing Coflexip to launch a counterclaim alleging that Rockwell was infringing the patent.

In the light of fresh evidence, Judge Laddie has surprisingly ruled that Coflexip’s patent is invalid and that Rockwell did not infringe.

Coflexip switched firms for the case from Clifford Chance, which won the original case, to Norton Rose.

Senior partner and head of intellectual property David Brown led the Bristows team advising Rockwell. Brown instructed Simon Thorley QC of Three New Square. Richard Miller QC of the same chambers and Norton Rose partner Chris Ryan advised Coflexip.