Sycurio v PCI Pal  EWHC 2361 (Pat)
Hogarth client PCI Pal announced to the London Stock Exchange on Monday evening that it had achieved “total victory” in its patent infringement dispute with rival call centre telecommunications provider Sycurio (link). PCI Pal were represented by an all-Hogarth Chambers team of Guy Tritton, Edward Cronan and Laura Adde instructed by John Mackenzie of Shepherd Wedderburn.
Sycurio accused PCI Pal of infringing its patent on signal detection and blocking for voice processing equipment through operation of PCI Pal’s Agent Assist platform for secure call centre payments. PCI Pal denied infringement and counterclaimed for the revocation of the Patent.
The trial lasted eight days and dealt with issues of obviousness, infringement by equivalents, added matter and excluded subject matter. Mrs Justice Bacon handed down a public judgment on 25 September 2023 (there is a confidential judgment on infringement). PCI Pal was successful on its obviousness case, establishing that the patent was invalid for obviousness over two prior art citations: ‘Shaffer’ and ‘van Volkenburgh’.
In addition, the Patent was not infringed, and even had it been infringed PCI Pal would have benefitted from a Gillette or Formstein Defence, based on a piece of prior art known as Proctor. In those circumstances the Judge decided there was no need to consider PCI Pal’s additional requests for declarations of non-infringement in respective of prospective products, or to consider issues of added matter or excluded subject matter.
The case raises interesting issues regarding the expertise required of an expert witness instructed in a patent infringement case, the case already being subject to expert commentary by Civil Litigation Brief. In particular, the Judge emphasised the importance of experts providing evidence only within their area of expertise, and not in relation to subjects upon which they have only educated themselves in the course of the litigation. These issues arose after Sycurio’s witness struggled with technical issues arising on cross-examination by Guy Tritton. Guy is held in particular esteem by colleagues for his skills in cross-examination, on which topic he has previously acted as a trainer for Inner Temple.
Chambers is particularly grateful to the Judge for inviting both sides’ more junior counsel to make oral submissions. This is in line with chambers’ own policy of ensuring all its juniors maximise the time spent on their feet from an early stage. This benefits not just their own oral advocacy, but their ability to support their leaders. Edward Cronan took responsibility for closing submissions on the construction-sufficiency squeezes, added matter, and excluded subject matter. Following PCI Pal v Sycurio Edward has now won six High Court patent trials in a row, carrying on the impressive streak of results that saw him named Junior IP Barrister of the Year by Managing IP earlier in 2023.
The successful trial is an additional chapter in Laura Adde’s flying start to life at Hogarth Chambers. Having acted on a number of high-profile matters while still a pupil (perhaps unsurprising given her previous experience as a qualified solicitor at a top London firm) her practice as a tenant is already well-established, and she is eagerly looking forward to continuing her patent litigation practice.
A public copy of the judgment is available at https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Patents/2023/2361.html