The High Court at Auckland has given airline reservation vendor Amadeus more time to amass evidence against competitor Sabre’s application for a patent for its travel software.
The court overturned a decision by the Commissioner of Patents refusing to give Madrid-based Amadeus an extension of time to file evidence against Sabre.
The case, which is being played out in several jurisdictions around the world, goes back to 1995 when Texas-based Sabre applied to the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office (IPONZ) for a patent relating to travel bookings software.
In 2000 Amadeus filed a notice of opposition and statement against Sabre citing “prior use” and “obviousness”.
The following year Sabre filed a counter statement leaving Amadeus to file evidence against it. Amadeus applied for several extensions. The initial two-month period for filing evidence was extended by three months with consent from Sabre. However, further applications for more time were turned down by the IPONZ case manager. The case went to the Commissioner of Patents, who also refused the granting of further time.
In its hearing before the commissioner, Amadeus raised the matter of involvement of overseas agents. Its New Zealand lawyers were instructed from Australia, which were in turn instructed from Spain and France. It also said that the release of a European patent office examiner’s report on the same software was imminent. However, the commissioner concluded these were not sufficient to justify a further extension of time.