The judgment has only just come out and this Kat implores his fellow-Kats who are more patent-oriented to get their claws into it for some real legal analysis.
Earlier posts on the Contour action here and here
Note: since posting the above note, the IPKat has received the following piece from law firm Taylor Wessing. He thought it was a very useful summary:
"This is the latest of a series of legal skirmishes, both in the UK and at the EPO, involving Virgin's Patent for flat-bed seats. The Judge dismissed the action against Delta Airways for infringement of Virgin's flat-bed patent by way of joint tortfeasance with Delta's seat manufacturer, Premium Aircraft Interiors (Contour). He did so on the grounds that there was no primary act of infringement by Contour and so by definition Delta could not be a joint tortfeasor. This is not likely to be the end of the story - it is expected that Virgin will seek permission to appeal the decision.
In granting summary judgment, by striking out Virgin's claim as having no real prospect of success, the Judge has done something fairly extraordinary in a patent case. Patent cases are hardly ever appropriate for summary judgment, primarily because patent cases are so dependent on expert evidence. However, in this case, because of the prior history of the long-running dispute between Virgin and Contour (the seat manufacturer that helped design and manufacture Virgin's Upper Class Suite (UCS) business class seats), that culminated in the European Patent Office hearing in September this year, the judge felt able to make his decision without requiring further expert evidence.
However, also, and perhaps even more significantly, the judge seriously called into question (and with substantial reasoning) the doctrine of infringement of a patent by supplying a "kit of parts" as a separate head of infringement under section 60(1)(a) of the Patents Act 1977. That doctrine, under the current law, had arisen in two previous English cases, Rotocrop International Ltd v Genbourne Ltd  FSR 241 and Lacroix Duarib SA v Kwikform (UK) Ltd  FSR 493. In his analysis (probably the most detailed analysis of the point anywhere since the Community Patent Convention (CPC) of 1975 had the effect of harmonising the national patent laws of a number of European states), he also considered the law on this point as it applied in other CPC states and concluded that the supply by a UK defendant of an incomplete "kit of parts" to a customer outside the UK could not infringe a UK patent but also that the supply of a complete "kit of parts" to such a customer should also not infringe either under section 60(1)(a) or section 60(2) of the Patents Act 1977".