There was an interesting article in yesterday’s Report on Business, entitled As patent cases clog courts, drugs are a lawyer’s best friend, which describes how the Federal Court of Canada judges are swamped with a rising tide of complex patent litigation and how law firms are scrambling for talent to keep up with one of the country’s fastest-growing practice areas.
The article states that currently there is a team of approximately 30 Federal Court judges devoting some or all of their time to about 350 separate pharmaceutical patent cases. It also notes that judges must wade through knee-high stacks of conflicting affidavits and scientific testimony that are about as dull as an accountant’s daybook (unless, maybe, you’re a patent lawyer).
There are some interesting quotes, including one from Mr. Justice Roger Hughes, who apparently stated that “Judges are human, not computers” after he was deluged with written and conflicting expert opinions during a drug patent case. Justice Hughes was a veteran intellectual property law litigator prior to his appointment to the Federal Court three years ago (see my previous posting here). So for him to make such a comment must really say something about the tremendous workloads faced by the Court.
The article finishes up by noting how Ivor M. Hughes, who founded a small Thornhill, Ontario based patent firm 30 years ago, agreed to close shop and move in with large law firm Heenan Blaikie.