How to fight patent trolling in Australia

The case of the man who was wrongly told he had lost his job because of a patent infringement case in Australia is a rare example of a worker comp case getting the legal attention it deserves. 

In November, Mr Zainul Islam, who runs a bike repair business in Sydney, was told by his boss that he would be laid off because he was infringing on another company’s patents.

Mr Islam was a licensed bicycle mechanic and did work for a small company called Avanti, and in July last year his business was hit by a lawsuit from a group of Australian firms called Cycles Australia.

Cycles Australia alleged that Mr Islam was illegally taking the patents of a company called Rolfs, which has been supplying bikes to the city’s cycling community for 20 years.

It also claimed that Rolf, a company based in France, had used its patents to infringe on others patents and had been granted a licence to manufacture bikes for the city of Sydney.

At the time, Mr Islam said he was confident that he had done nothing wrong.

“It’s a bit of a shocker that my company is being sued in Australia,” he said.

The company had no idea it had been taken to court, and Mr Islam’s boss had no recollection of hearing about it.

He contacted Mr Islam to complain, but the company said it did not believe Mr Islam had violated any patents.

“We’ve got an investigation underway,” Cycles Australian general manager James Anderson said.

“The company has done an internal investigation and we are confident we’ve got a fair outcome for all parties.”

But after a fortnight-long legal battle, Mr Anderson conceded that it was unlikely that Mr Zaidi could have a fair chance.

But Mr Islam is hopeful that he can still fight his case and get the outcome he wanted.

His lawyer, Andrew Pugh, said that despite a long history of cases in Australia, there was still a “lack of transparency” in how patent claims were handled.

In a letter to the Federal Court, Cycles said the decision to lay off Mr Islam would “result in substantial economic damage to the company”.

“We do not know whether the company’s business will suffer or if any of its employees will lose their jobs, and we have a lot of concerns about the legal proceedings,” Mr Pugh said.

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