On 18 July 2017 the Regional Court of Düsseldorf made the decision in summary proceedings: Wilkinson is no longer allowed to offer replacement blades in Germany that fit the Gillette Mach 3 wet shave razor. This technology is protected by Gillette patent EP 1 695 800 B1 until February 2018.
The patent "Dispensing razor blade cartridges used with a handle" has been filed on February 18, 1998, with a priority date of February 19, 1997. Shortly before the end of the patent protection Wilkinson has offered similar replacements (own blades) on the market by about 30% below the selling price of the Gillette original blades and intended to take over their attractive replacement business.
What is the patent worth?
The Gillette patent is part of a very large patent family with 53 alive family members including divisional and continuation patents and had an enormously high value. As the automatic patent valuation shows, 2010 the market value of the patent is more than 26 million euros - the patent describes a closure standard. The value was decreasing during the following years due to the shortening remaining period of use, particularly during the last year of the patent protection period.
The judgment of the regional court is not yet final; both parties may appeal the decision at the Oberlandesgericht (Higher Regional Court). For Wilkinson, the verdict has the following implications: the blades that are already on the market may be sold and those still in stock will be confiscated and possibly destroyed. However, the prohibition will not last very long: after the patent expires in February 2018, Wilkinson is allowed to sell the replacement blades.