BlackBerry counsel slams US patent litigation system for falling short of Euro standards

Tom Sanchez, the chief patent counsel of BlackBerry manufacturer RIM, has lashed out at the US legal system and called for reform of patent litigation following the company’s $612.5m (£354.8m) payout, which settled one of the highest-profile patent disputes in recent memory.

“We’re the poster child as to why there needs to be patent reform,” said Sanchez. “The patent issue is a uniquely bad problem for the US legal system at the moment.”

A veteran of patent litigation on both sides of the Atlantic, Sanchez said the US lacks the specialist IP courts and judges boasted by the UK and German judiciaries.

Sanchez said: “I like the European system; there are learned tribunals. Pumfrey, Jacob and Kitchin – they all understand the technology.”

Sanchez praised the work of Lovells, which has handled RIM’s European litigation against Inpro. But the Lovells IP team was hit last week by the sensational departure of Nicola Dagg, the Lovells litigator who handled much of the work.

Dagg quit last week to join Allen & Overy. After being told by The Lawyer about the move, Sanchez said: “I’m sure there’s enough work that will stay with Lovells. But we’ll continue to have a good relationship with Nicola. All RIM wants is confident litigators.”

Lovells managing partner David Harris commented: “We do all we can to ensure that individual contributions are recognised, but you can’t give everyone a formal leadership role. On occasions, a younger partner is tempted by offers from the competition to take a lead role in developing a practice, as has happened here.”