What’s so complex about Drafting Beer?

Ask the Judge in The Hague. Heineken sued Philips over a contraption called “the beer tender”. Basically it is a small tap one can use to draft a nice glass of beer from an even smaller vat. So nothing special for heavy users so far. But….once lawyers get involved it certainly becomes a mess. What happened? Heineken developed the Home Beertender.

Quite a consumer hit.

Philips, in good Eindhoven innovative tradition launched its own version of a tap: Philips Perfect Draft, a cooperation between Philips and various breweries competing with Heineken. Heineken, not amused, did what most companies do when they loose market share, avoid competition and bring in the lawyers!

So Heineken sued Philips and Inbev. In good drinking tradition, the court case started on a Friday. Lawyers from both sides argued their case.

Today, the District Court of The Hague issued its judgement. Heineken lost. Not because their patents were no good, but because…..“these cases, for various reasons, are extremely complicated, even when considering that this court, having exclusive jurisdiction in patent cases, is not afraid of extensive patent cases in summary injunction proceedings”.

So what can be so complicated about drafting beer? It looks like the lawyers as well as the judges had one too many…….or is it just that lawyers have this one unique ability, namely to make anything simple, like drafting beer, “extremely complicated”.

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