On 16 June 2023 the patent proprietor Ocado Innovation Limited (GB) filed an Infringement Action (ACT_459791/2023) against the Norwegian company AutoStore and its subsidiaries in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and Sweden before the UPC – Nordic-Baltic Regional Division based on the European patent No. 3 653 540 B1 “STORAGE SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR RETRIEVING UNITS FROM A STORAGE SYSTEM.” The patent relates to storage systems and methods for retrieving units, e.g. by a robotic system, from a storage system comprising a grid of stacked units.

The value of the action is EUR 3M, and the court fee amounts to EUR 31K. At this stage of the proceedings, there is no public access to the Statement of Claim. Thus, unfortunately, we cannot report any substantive matters yet. The language of proceedings is English, and Stefan Johansson (SE) is Judge Rapporteur and Presiding judge.

There have already been 1st stage opposition proceedings before the EPO in relation to the patent in suit. However, on 27 July 2023, the opponent AutoStore Technology AS (NO) withdrew their opposition before oral proceedings before the Opposition Division took place (scheduled on 23 January 2024). On 1 August 2023, the Opposition Division confirmed that AutoStore Technology AS is no longer a party to the proceedings, and it will be decided if the procedure shall continue by the EPO on its own motion.

The Patent was granted on 17 March 2021, and a Notice of Opposition was filed 17 December 2021. Two 3rd party observations were filed during the prosecution before the EPO.

As for the proceedings going forward, we would not expect the EPO to continue the opposition proceedings on their own motion. Considering the UPC proceedings, it will be interesting to find out if there have been infringing activities not only in Sweden, but also in the other countries where the Norwegian company has subsidiaries. These particularly include France and Germany, which local divisions were not selected for this court action in favor of the regional court of Stockholm, Sweden.

We will continue to monitor the EPO and the UPC proceedings and revert with an update as soon as there is something new to report.