2018年1月18日 星期四

米開朗基羅的大衛像需要官方授權才能商業使用

案件資訊:
學院美術館(Galleria dell'Accademiahttp://www.accademia.org/it/


佛羅倫斯地方法院(Tribunale di Firenze / Florence district court)於2017年10月25日作出意見,認為旅遊公司「Visit Today(http://visittodayitaly.com)」並沒有通過授權合法商業使用(行銷、商業廣告)米開朗基羅的大衛像(Michelangelo's David)的圖像。

從ipkitten得到一段法院意見的翻譯:

根據義大利文化財產法,管理文化物品的管理者有權授權提出申請與繳交授權費的對象「重製」文化物品,但非營利用途除外。

這回,「大衛像」,毫無疑問的是定義的文化物品,「學院美術館」為管理者,被告Visit Today需要通過學院美術館授權才能重製大衛像。

"Article 108 of the Cultural Heritage Code provides that the authority which administers a cultural good has the right to allow its reproduction, subject to an application and the payment of a royalty set by the authority itself, with the sole exception of reproductions of work for non-profit purposes.
There is no doubt that the sculpture at issue [David] is a cultural good, nor is there any doubt that the authority that administers it is the Galleria dell' Accademia, which is subject to the Ministry [of Culture]; it follows that its use for for-profit purposes done through the reproduction of its image falls within the cases for which the authorization of the administrative authority is needed."

本案判決Visit Today從網站上撤下大衛像等有關文化古蹟的圖片,否則一天罰2000歐元( €2,000)。

法院意見:https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Yn-aXmQitAtn2x9twx8_NeNyvrtcd4in/view?usp=sharing

my two cents:
既然「大衛像」僅在"非營利目的下"才是「全人類遺產」,在商業使用下需要被授權,而且適用全歐洲(全世界?),這樣,很多紀念品大概都會被影響,甚至也會減損行銷義大利的效果。如果,某種程度地釋放善意,也算是文化推廣。

是否這個判決會有後續,可能有機會要持續追蹤,不然,這個決定會讓很多歐洲古蹟、文物,或是只要擁有老東西的人都可以適用(可能很多義大利人多少都繼承到一些文化古物),到處都是地雷,必須要避免濫用。

「版權」,或說著作權,總是有點麻煩(或說不懂),常常要想何謂「合理使用(fair use)」:
著作權法在第44條到第63條規定許多合理使用的情形,像是:為了立法、行政、司法目的參考利用、學校教學目的的重製、個人或家庭非營利的重製、合理引用、新聞報導的利用、圖書館等文教機構的重製、非營利活動中的公開利用、合法電腦程式的修改或重製、耗盡原則等,將社會上經常會利用到他人著作,但是對於 著作權人影響不大的情形,直接列為合理使用的規定,減輕利用人在授權取得方面的負擔。

這個「合理使用」的設計是「減輕在授權取得方面的負擔」,但是如果著作權人反對,理應該下架的還是應該要下架。

「重製權」:
沒有經過著作財產權人的同意,對他人的著作加以重製,只要不符合合理使用的規定,就會侵害「重製權」。「重製」可說是最重要的著作利用方式,一般人最常碰到的也是重製的問題,因此,著作權法在第44條到第63條有關個別合理使用的條文,把許多對於他人著作在合理範圍內的「重製」,都列為合理使用的規定,像是:老師為了學校教學的目的,可以重製他人著作的一小部分發給同學上課練習使用、為了個人非營利的目的,可以重製他人著作自行利用、台北101大樓雖然是建築著作,遊客都可以自由地將台北101大樓入鏡,雖然是用攝影方式重製台北101大樓,但依法是屬於合理使用,無須取得授權。



相似案件
http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/11/blog-post_11.html
(2007 A.D.)

訴訟資訊:
http://ipkitten.blogspot.tw/2017/11/florence-courts-decision-on-use-of.html
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/24/florence-court-puts-foot-down-over-michelangelos-david
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/24/davids-assets-protected-italy-bans-images-ofmichelangelos-famous/

新聞來源:
https://global.udn.com/global_vision/story/8664/2885138

Ron

2018年1月17日 星期三

印度商標訴訟與策略筆記 - infringement & passing off

印度商標法目前為1999年商標法:

http://www.ipindia.nic.in/writereaddata/Portal/IPOAct/1_43_1_trade-marks-act.pdf

商標權人在印度可以有兩個方式對侵害權利者主張商標權,可以保護註冊商標與未註冊商標使用的擁有人。其中,第一是侵權訴訟(infringement),針對註冊商標,目的是處理商標使用;第二是主張商標權以排除商標混淆(passing off),針對未註冊商標,passing off主要是要將市面上造成混淆或欺瞞的商標的物品排除。

印度最高法院在案例「Durga Dutt v Navaratna Pharmaceutical Laboratories (AIR 1965 SC 980)」中明確指出以上兩個方式的差異。

Infringement措施意欲提供商標權人主張專利權以及法定損害賠償,如果商標權人懷疑所擁有的商標的重要特徵(essential feature)被他人使用,用在他人的物品或其包裝上,Infringement措施可以通過訴訟釐清商標之間的差異是否有顯著差異(marked difference),是否可以明確指出與原告商標的差異。

相關infringement印度商標法(資料來源:https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1017213/)摘要如下,如第29(9)條定義出商標中可辨識的特徵包括商標用字的口頭使用、視覺表示等。

28. Rights conferred by registration.—
(1) Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the registration of a trade mark shall, if valid, give to the registered proprietor of the trade mark the exclusive right to the use of the trade mark in relation to the goods or services in respect of which the trade mark is registered and to obtain relief in respect of infringement of the trade mark in the manner provided by this Act.

29. Infringement of registered trade marks.—
(1) A registered trade mark is infringed by a person who, not being a registered proprietor or a person using by way of permitted use, uses in the course of trade, a mark which is identical with, or deceptively similar to, the trade mark in relation to goods or services in respect of which the trade mark is registered and in such manner as to render the use of the mark likely to be taken as being used as a trade mark.
...
(9) Where the distinctive elements of a registered trade mark consist of or include words, the trade mark may be infringed by the spoken use of those words as well as by their visual representation and reference in this section to the use of a mark shall be construed accordingly.

Passing off措施指向有惡意使用的商標,滿足passing off方案的基本訴求是:聲譽、虛假陳述與善意使用,並證明有損害("reputation, misrepresentation and damage to goodwill"),"未註冊"商標擁有人(proprietor)需要證明在前的商標與連續商業使用的證據,商標已經具備善意使用與聲譽,其他相似的商標使用則有欺瞞與混淆公眾的問題,並對商標擁有人與商標本身聲譽造成損失。由於passing off方案是解決"未註冊"商標的爭議,因此只要商標使用者指出足夠與原本商標區隔的證據就可以免除損害賠償。

此案例判決書:https://indiankanoon.org/doc/529384/

Infringement and passing-off爭議為民事爭議,法院管轄權將根據侵權發生地或是當事人所在地決定(territorial jurisdiction),由印度地方法院與高等法院審理,上訴法院為最高法院。

對於外國人擁有的商標爭議,根據印度商標被授權人簽署商標合約的地方來決定審理法院
(相關案例:PK Sen v Exxon (2017 (69) PTC 271) the Delhi High Court

本篇文章也提到,在法院前,只要有意願都可以通過協商和解。

本篇內容源自:https://www.lexology.com/r.ashx?i=5756118&l=7XPPERQ

Ron

2018年1月16日 星期二

專利用詞「Adjacent」討論 - Free Motion Fitness, Inc. v. Cybex Intern., Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2005)

本篇討論專利用詞「Adjacent」,但也涉及一些解釋專利範圍的原則,還有常見以"first"、"second"命名多個相同元件的用語 - Free Motion Fitness, Inc. v. Cybex Intern., Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2005)

「Adjacent」中文翻為"鄰近的、毗鄰的、緊接著",常用「Adjacent /to」描述兩個東西「鄰接」的關係,但到底有沒有"接到"鄰近的物品?

"a logic chip is arranged adjacent to the plurality of memory packages ..."
"wherein the plurality of terminals include system address terminals which are adjacent to the first corner of the logic chip and first and second system data terminals ..."
"a selection of multiple adjacent web faces of the CAD model and at least one datum plane of the CAD model that intersects the web faces ..."
"the second data track being adjacent to the first data track ..."
"In response to the randomly selected outcome including a special symbol on adjacent ones of the plurality of reels, ..."

案件資訊:
原告/上訴人:FREE MOTION FITNESS, INC.
被告/被上訴人:CYBEX INTERNATIONAL, INC., The Nautilus Group, Inc.
系爭專利:US6,238,323、US6,458,061
判決日:September 16, 2005

本案緣起原告Free Motion Fitness對被告Cybex提出侵權告訴,地院判決侵權不成立,經原告上訴CAFC,CAFC發回地院重新解釋申請專利範圍,以及文義讀取與均等論,其中更涉及禁反言(Prosecution history estoppel)的議題。

系爭專利US6,458,061關於一種交叉纜線的運動器材,請求項1界定一個包括有阻尼組以及連接雙延伸臂的纜線,其中第一延伸臂(12, 112)一端樞接(pivotally)而支持「鄰近(adjacent)」阻尼組;第二延伸臂(14, 114)一端樞接而支持鄰近阻尼組。

1. An exercise apparatus, comprising:
a resistance assembly;
a cable linking a first extension arm and a second extension arm to the resistance assembly, wherein the cable includes a first strand and a second strand;
the first extension arm includes a first end pivotally supported adjacent the resistance assembly at a first pivot point rotating about a first axis and a free second end from which the first strand of the cable extends for engagement by a user, the first end of the first extension arm further including a pulley having an axis of rotation offset from the first pivot point and rotating about an axis substantially parallel to the first axis;
the second extension arm includes a first end pivotally supported adjacent the resistance assembly at a second pivot point rotating about a second axis and a free second end from which the first strand of the cable extends for engagement by a user, the first end of the second extension arm further including a pulley having an axis of rotation offset from the second pivot point and rotating about an axis substantially parallel to the second axis.

這類結構專利圖式十分重要,法官解釋專利範圍時,參考說明書圖式,如'061的Fig. 6與7,系爭專利說明書內對「阻尼組(resistance assembly)」描述不多,但可以圖式來理解,Fig. 7是第一延伸臂(112)連接的阻尼組的細節,延伸臂(112)平行後方的滑輪



被告Cybex也販售類似的運動器材,器材中對應的「阻尼組」與延伸臂可以樞接在不同的平面,使得被告侵權物的雙臂可以自我旋轉,判決書中形容如「喇叭鎖(doorknob)」的轉動方式。

地方法院:
如此,地院作出「文義讀取」侵權不成立的決定("not literally infringed"),針對均等論,又考量系爭專利'323案在審查期間產生的歷史禁反言適用,使得原告也無法主張均等論,最終作出侵權不成立決定。原告上訴CAFC。

CAFC:
剛好當年2005年產出現在都在沿用解釋專利範圍原則的判例「Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303 (Fed.Cir.2005) (en banc)」,CAFC即依照其中解釋專利範圍原則,以下摘錄法院解釋本案專利範圍的一些結果。

Phillips判例可參考:合理解釋專利範圍的案例 - Phillips v. AWH Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2005)http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2015/05/phillips-v-awh-corp-fed-cir-2005.html
  • 並未列於申請專利範圍中的特徵原則上不會用來限縮專利範圍,特別是專利範圍使用了開放式連接詞(comprising)("The addition of unclaimed elements does not typically defeat infringement when a patent uses an open transitional phrase such as “comprising.”")。
  • 專利用語"first"與"second"常見用以區分多個相同元件("“the use of the terms ‘first’ and ‘second’ is a common patent-law convention to distinguish between repeated instances of an element or limitation.”  3M Innovative Props. Co. v. Avery Dennison Corp., 350 F.3d 1365, 1371 (Fed.Cir.2003)."),但非用以限制特定結構。
  • 本案中,申請專利範圍包括第一、第二延伸臂,各連接第一樞接點("first extension arm includes a first end; the second extension arm includes a first end"),但是,"first"不是指空間位置,並未建議各延伸臂的樞接點位置,正確的解釋是,"first"僅連接到第一樞接點,並非解釋第一、第二延伸臂的相對位置關係("“First” does not denote spatial location, that is, it does not suggest where on the “first extension arm” or the “second extension arm” the pivot points are located.   The correct construction of the word “first” merely associates the first pivot point with the first extension arm, and thus does not support the district court's judgment that the accused devices do not infringe.")。
  • 法院重申,請求項中的定冠詞「the」指向前述的「a」相同元件,但在開放式的請求項中不是用來限定元件數量("We also reject Cybex's argument that use of the word “the” in connection with the word “cable” later in the claim shows that the earlier reference to “a” denotes singularity.   Like the words “a” and “an,” the word “the” is afforded the same presumptive meaning of “one or more” when used with the transitional phrase “comprising.” ")。
  • 根據上條解釋,法院認為本案請求項中「a cable linking」意指「one or more cables linking」。
  • 關於均等論,這裡有個原則:上下級法院都同意,專利範圍的disclaimer(如禁反言產生的放棄聲明)同等適用在文義讀取與均等論侵權判斷上("We do address, however, one aspect of the district court's doctrine of equivalents analysis because the district court seemed to find a disclaimer of claim scope that could be equally applicable to literal and equivalent infringement.")。

接著是,本篇討論重點:adjacent
  • 地院解釋系爭專利的各個延伸臂上的「樞接點」必須是「adjacent(鄰接)」到阻尼組("The district court also held that the pivot point on each arm (as described in the claims) must be “adjacent the resistance assembly.”"),其中「adjacent」可以是或不是「接觸(contact)」,但此案則是兩個物體之間會有其他物件在其中("The district court construed the word “adjacent” to mean “that objects may or may not be in contact, but are not adjacent to each other where there is another object between them.”")。

然而,系爭專利說明書並未明確定義「adjacent」(內部證據),可參考外部證據,如字典定義、相關領域技術人員的理解。但有個原則是,如果字典解釋與內部證據相左,則不能採用。

"Our en banc decision in Phillips clarified the appropriate use of dictionaries in claim construction, rejecting the view that dictionary definitions govern unless contradicted by intrinsic evidence.  Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1320."

這回法官參考「Webster's Third New International Dictionary」,找出「adjacent」的兩個解釋,並同時參考申請專利範圍、說明書與審查歷史等內部證據。

第一,「adjacent」為非遠端("not distant");第二,「adjacent」是相對接近,但沒有干預("relatively near and having nothing of the same kind intervening")。

經法官理解後,並參考內部證據,內部證據不支持第二個解釋,因此認為本案趨向第一個解釋。總之,本案申請專利範圍中的「adjacent」就是在「附近"near"」就是了,被告在地院階段同意這樣解釋。

如此,CAFC認為,被告產品的「樞接點」也與「阻尼組」為「非遠端(not distant)」的關係,並不是不被專利範圍讀入。

(重要)討論均等論時,地院因為系爭專利權人在審查歷史中產生禁反言,因此認為均等論不適用解釋專利範圍。但CAFC有個態度是,申請專利範圍中除了一些元件外,仍存在一些不想要的習知特徵(undesirable prior art feature),在審查過程中為了要克服核駁意見,也會對這些不想要的特徵進行修正與答辯,但,除非有明確與沒有錯誤的範圍拋棄聲明(disclaimer),這些對習知元件的修正與答辯並不會限制申請專利範圍。簡單來說,禁反言僅對修正的對象適用,不及於沒有改變的技術特徵。

"The presence of an undesirable prior art feature in addition to the elements recited in the claim, even when the undesirability of that feature formed the basis of an amendment and argument overcoming a rejection during prosecution, does not limit the claim unless there is a clear and unmistakable disclaimer of claim scope."

CAFC否決地院不侵權判決。

my two cents:
寫專利範圍真的是個學問,但以後上法院的爭議點總可能是在我們不在意的地方。

判決書可在此找到:
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-federal-circuit/1326094.html

Ron

2018年1月15日 星期一

阿根廷最新修法概要

多一點點別國的資訊,多少可以增加一些些對世界的瞭解。阿根廷專利局於01/11/2018公佈最新第27/2018號修法(Decree 27/2018)。

阿根廷專利與商標局:http://www.inpi.gob.ar

這個修法的目的是要精簡與縮短各項智慧財產權審查的時間。

商標:
- 針對商標異議制度,阿根廷PTO將會參與法院判決。
- 嚴格執行「商標使用」要件,修法將要求商標權人提出規定期限內的商標使用宣告。
- 將撤銷商標權人的商品或服務沒有使用上無關的類別登錄。


設計:
- 提供優惠期(grace period),提供6個月的優惠期,申請人可於公開設計後6個月內提出設計申請案。
- 可提出「分割案(divisional application)」。
- 可以在過期後6個月內繳交年費,但須加上額外費用。

專利(通過縮短各樣官方期限來增進審查效能):
- 申請人回覆專利局提出的初步(preliminary, formal)審查意見的期限將縮短到30天。
- 針對發明申請案(patent),申請人提出「實際審查要求」的期限將縮短到申請後18個月。
- 針對新型申請案(utility model),申請人應於申請日後3個月內提出審查請求。
- 取得申請日的要件並非需要所有文件(但仍有基本要求,如說明書、圖式與費用),可根據審查委員要求再提出。

(以上為修法的基本概要)

修法前的專利審查程序(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2011/02/blog-post_22.html):

資料來源:RICHELET & RICHELET

Ron

2018年1月12日 星期五

WIPO知識產權年度報告


http://www.wipo.int/edocs/pubdocs/en/wipo_pub_941_2017.pdf

專利,或說智慧財產權,有個特色是,2017年報告,重點在2016年以前的事件。

內容很多,就找有興趣的來看,以專利為主,首先是2015、2016「key numbers」,整體數據來看,最亮眼的就是中國,WIPO數據中,專利、商標、設計與新型專利等主要幾種智慧財產的申請案都是中國遙遙領先,「植物物種」大概就EU超過而已。


以國家來排行,2016年前幾名為中國、日本、美國、德國與韓國。


從「special section」找到有趣的數據,每10年來看,進步最多的是中國與伊朗,圖表顯示走下坡的為加拿大與日本。


10年來,幾個專利局的案件與審查委員人數比,人均分配到審查數量曾經最多的是印度,但已經有明顯下降,看來日、韓審查委員負擔是挺重的。



這就值得大家注意了,報告中挑出一些國家來看平均審查時間,其中深紫色顯示為第一次OA的平均時間,最久的是巴西,近90個月(7年多),最快為伊朗,看來不到半年就可以得到第一次OA。其實太慢與太快都不太好,適中讓人有餘力去思考佈局應該是比較好的。得到最終結果,為淺紫色,包括Final OA或是最終決定,巴西快要100個月,拿到專利時,也沒多少日子了,氣都沒了,看來多數國家平均都要三年左右才能得到最終結果


但是審查效率大多都有顯著的改善了:


到了最終結果,獲准比較重要,這幾個國家中,獲准率看來(深紫色),印尼、澳洲、日本、俄國、西班牙等都很高,美國不高,核駁比例反而最多。


美國,有一半案子是被核駁的:


這張圖表十分精彩,直接將IP5的專利申請與審查程序列出,還可做個比較。核准前後程序差異不大,但US比較有特殊的程序,如沒有請求實審的步驟,核准後也有許多特殊的無效方案。


中國知識產權勢力崛起:


WIPO數據中,申請量為前20名國家中,中國雖是申請量第一名,但專利申請仍以本地人為主,應該也是受國家補助的關係;美國很均衡,內外兼具;日本與韓國也是以本地人為主,應該是本土研發創新活絡的關係;巴西、墨西哥、香港、新加坡、南非都是外地人申請案為主。


除了總體數量外,美國從各種數據來看,都是最好的狀態,比如在各主要國家的外國人申請量總是最多的,其次是日本,還有德國,看來,中國還是有得追的。


專利家族有時才是強盛指標,相對於個別專利,強大的專利家族才能表示專利的能量,Canon在這幾年WIPO佈局是第一名,其次是Samsung、Panasonic、Toshiba、Toyota、Mitsubishi、Huawei、LG等,日本、韓國公司還是最厲害的。


這個表可以看出各個主要申請人的技術類別分布,"合理地"看出Canon偏重光學與影音科技、Samsung偏重電腦科技與數位通訊、Panasonic偏重電子機構、Huawei著重數位通訊與電腦科技、LG厲害在數位通訊與電信領域。


以國家來看,也可以看到各國整體發展方向,中國突出的領域在電子機構、電腦科技與量測;法國厲害在電子機構與數位通訊;德國在電子機構方面超強;日本在電子機構、電腦科技、半導體與光學都很突出;韓國厲害的地方也很多,有電子機構、電腦科技與半導體。


誰最喜歡使用各國之間審查合作方案PPH,答案是:日本。
舉例來說,第二申請案在澳洲的,最多是請求第一申請國日本PPH審查高速公路;加拿大申請案最多使用美國的PPH。中國、歐洲、德國、泰國等,最多請求第一申請國日本的PPH。顯見,日本專利局審查速度也要夠快,才能啟動PPH。以上表格顯示日本申請到最終結果產出不到兩年,且核准率高,都是讓日本人成為愛用PPH的理由。


my two cents:
以上數據都是從WIPO得來,可能並非全貌,但是趨勢卻值得參考。
專利是個古老的大數據,專利數據"不意外地"反映各種現實狀況,算是一種領先指標。
數據背後都會有隱藏更深層的意義,這就要專家來看了。

Ron

2018年1月11日 星期四

MPEP 2103/2106 III 筆記


MPEP 2103規範一個專利審查程序,要求審查委員應該在一次OA中提供完整的審查意見,原則是principles of compact prosecution就是考量了所有的專利性議題後,作出審查意見,不能分次提出,即便是專利有瑕疵。

"USPTO personnel should state all reasons and bases for rejecting claims in the first Office action."

"every statutory requirement for patentability in the initial review of the application, even if one or more claims are found to be deficient with respect to some statutory requirement."

然後,規範了審查委員不少責任,包括解釋專利中的問題、核駁理由,甚至包括建議申請人要如何克服核駁意見。

MPEP 2106原本是討論專利適格性(Patent Subject Matter Eligibility)議題,但是在其第III段落討論到「建立初步案件記錄(Establish on the Record a Prima Facie Case」的規定中,要求審查委員在討論101議題時,還是應該要對全部的專利性議題提出審查意見,這就是上述「principles of compact prosecution」。

從MPEP 2106 III可以得到一些想法,MPEP應該要求審查委員應該在一個OA中建立一個完整的審查意見(Under the principles of compact prosecution),在此篇中,規定除了101外,還需要102/103/112意見,而不要用多次OA分次提出意見。

這樣看來,可以猜想的是(或說應該是在看得懂專利內容的前提下),如果僅有103審查意見,應該是已經考慮了101/102/112;如果僅有101,應該是已經考慮102/103/112。

但如果看不懂專利,如面對112(a)(b)議題,實務上,負責任的審查委員會用自己的理解來解釋專利範圍後,提出審查意見;或是,在特定情況下,因為看不懂而無法進行102/103審查,似乎也算有理。


不過,我覺得專利申請人面對沒有102/103的審查意見的OA時,應該可以先認定審查委員遵守了這個原則:一次OA就考量了所有證據、講完所有的專利性議題。如此,理想狀況下,只要克服眼前101, 112議題,沒有觸動到專利性的問題,可以設想為可核准專利。

"Office personnel should state all non-cumulative reasons and bases for rejecting claims in the first Office action."

MPEP 2103    PATENT EXAMINATION PROCESS

I. DETERMINE WHAT APPLICANT HAS INVENTED AND IS SEEKING TO PATENT
It is essential that patent applicants obtain a prompt yet complete examination of their applications. Under the principles of compact prosecution, each claim should be reviewed for compliance with every statutory requirement for patentability in the initial review of the application, even if one or more claims are found to be deficient with respect to some statutory requirement. Thus, USPTO personnel should state all reasons and bases for rejecting claims in the first Office action. Deficiencies should be explained clearly, particularly when they serve as a basis for a rejection. Whenever practicable, USPTO personnel should indicate how rejections may be overcome and how problems may be resolved. A failure to follow this approach can lead to unnecessary delays in the prosecution of the application.
Prior to focusing on specific statutory requirements, USPTO personnel must begin examination by determining what, precisely, the applicant has invented and is seeking to patent, and how the claims relate to and define that invention. USPTO personnel will review the complete specification, including the detailed description of the invention, any specific embodiments that have been disclosed, the claims and any specific, substantial, and credible utilities that have been asserted for the invention.
After obtaining an understanding of what applicant invented, the examiner will conduct a search of the prior art and determine whether the invention as claimed complies with all statutory requirements.
Therefore, examiners should avoid focusing on issues of patent-eligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101 to the detriment of considering an application for compliance with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 11235 U.S.C. 102, and 35 U.S.C. 103, and should avoid treating an application solely on the basis of patent-eligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101 except in the most extreme cases.

MPEP 2106    PATENT SUBJECT MATTER ELIGIBILITY
...
III. Establish on the Record a Prima Facie Case
USPTO personnel should review the totality of the evidence (e.g., the specification, claims, relevant prior art) before reaching a conclusion with regard to whether the claimed invention sets forth patent eligible subject matter. USPTO personnel must reach a conclusion as to whether it is more likely than not that the claimed invention as a whole either falls outside of one of the enumerated statutory classes or within one of the exceptions to statutory subject matter. “The examiner bears the initial burden … of presenting a prima facie case of unpatentability.” In re Oetiker, 977 F.2d 1443, 1445, 24 USPQ2d 1443, 1444 (Fed. Cir. 1992). If the record as a whole suggests that it is more likely than not that the claimed invention would be considered significantly more than an abstract idea, natural phenomenon, or law of nature, then USPTO personnel should not reject the claim.
After USPTO personnel identify and explain in the record the reasons why a claim is for an abstract idea, natural phenomenon, or law of nature without significantly more, then the burden shifts to the applicant to either amend the claim or make a showing of why the claim is eligible for patent protection. See, e.g., In re Brana, 51 F.3d 1560, 1566, 34 USPQ2d 1436, 1441 (Fed. Cir. 1995).
Under the principles of compact prosecution, regardless of whether a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 101 is made based on lack of subject matter eligibility, a complete examination should be made for every claim under each of the other patentability requirements: 35 U.S.C. 102, 103, 112, and 101 (utility, inventorship and double patenting) and non-statutory double patenting. Thus, Office personnel should state all non-cumulative reasons and bases for rejecting claims in the first Office action.
Ron

2018年1月10日 星期三

專利用詞「About」- Cohesive Technologies, Inc. v. Waters Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2008)

- 專利用詞「About」,亦包括「rigid」定義。
Cohesive Technologies, Inc. v. Waters Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2008)

案件資訊:
原告/上訴人:COHESIVE TECHNOLOGIES, INC.
被告/交叉上訴人:WATERS CORPORATION
系爭專利:US 5,772,874 (the “’874 patent”)、US 5,919,368 (the “’368 patent”).
判決日:October 7, 2008


本案緣起原告Cohesive對被告Waters連續提出三件專利侵權告訴,被告產品為一種高效液相色譜(30 μm Oasis high-performance liquid chromatography (“HPLC”) columns (the “30 μm columns”)、25 μm Oasis HPLC columns)。地院在第一案判決專利有效、'874專利侵權成立;第二案判專利有效以及侵權賠償(被告提出不公平行為不成立);第三案則判侵權不成立(均等論不成立)。對此判決,雙方都上訴。

(本案辯證過程很重要,所以底下內容像是我的筆記,不是結論說「about」怎麼解釋而已)

CAFC判決,同意地院對於專利用語「rigid」的解釋以及被告Waters的「30 μm產品」侵權成立的決定;但對於被告Waters的「25 μm產品」的訴訟(第三案),CAFC不同意地院對專利範圍中「greater than about 30 μm」的解釋,照CAFC解釋,Waters無法排除不侵權(文義讀取)的責任。

系爭專利關於HPLC,這是一種分離,識別和測量液體中所含化合物的方法,常用於血液中藥物成份測試(血液透析),

系爭專利US 5,772,874('368案為'874案的分割案):

'874案Claim 1界定一液相色譜裝置,其中包括有個色譜體,為在活性表面上均勻形成多個剛性固體多孔顆粒的色譜體,顆粒的平均直徑大於約30μm,顆粒之間的間隙體積不小於總量的約45% 柱的體積;以及,以可與活性表面反應的溶液以流體方式,以降速約大於5000的速度載到所述柱內。


1. Chromatography apparatus comprising, in combination,
a chromatographic body formed as a substantially uniformly distributed multiplicity of rigid, solid, porous particles with chromatographically active surfaces, said particles having average diameters of greater than about 30 μm, the interstitial volume between said particles being not less than about 45% of the total volume of said column; and
means for loading said surfaces with at least one solute that is reactive with said surfaces, by flowing a liquid mixture containing said solute through said body at a velocity sufficient to induce flow of said mixture within at least a substantial portion of said interstitial volume at a reduced velocity greater than about 5,000.
15. In chromatography apparatus including a chromatographic column formed as a bed of a packed multiplicity of rigid solid particles having substantially uniform mean diameters of not less than about 30 μm, the surfaces of said particles being chromatographically active and wherein a solute introduced into said bed tends to become non-specifically bound to said particles, the improvement including
means for injecting a liquid mixture comprising said solute into said column at a reduced velocity greater than about 5,000 so as to load said particles with said solute; and

means for eluting the loaded solute from said particles by flowing eluant fluid through said column at an average reduced velocity greater than about 5000.
16. A chromatographic column comprising, in combination,
a container packed with a substantially uniformly distributed multiplicity of rigid, solid, porous particles with chromatographically active surfaces, said particle having substantially uniform average diameters in the range between about 30 to about 500 μm, the interstitial volume between said particles being greater than about 45% of the total volume of said body, said volume being formed of a multiplicity of interstitial channels between said particles, at least a majority of said channels having mean cross-section dimensions substantially not less than about 5 μm.
'368案Claim 1:

1. A method of performing liquid chromatography comprising the steps of:
packing within a tubular container a substantially uniformly distributed multiplicity of rigid, solid, porous particles with chromatographically active surfaces, so as to form a chromatographic column having an interstitial volume between said particles, said particles having average diameters of not less than about 30 μm; and

loading said surfaces with at least one solute that is reactive with said surfaces, by flowing a liquid mixture containing said solute through said column at a velocity sufficient to induce flow of said mixture within at least a substantial portion of said interstitial volume at a reduced velocity greater than about 5,000.

以上列舉的專利範圍涉及化學成份,申請人多處採用「不明確」的用語,如substantially, about, than(大小)、rigid(軟硬)等,但在相關領域的專利卻是常見,因此,爭議也就來了,如何「明確解釋這些不明確用語」?

本案中,解釋專利範圍時,爭議的兩個特徵是:

- particles that are “rigid
- have average diameters “greater than about 30 μm

第一個爭議:rigid。
地方法院解釋「rigid」為「“an object’s capacity to maintain substantially zero changes in density and volume under packing pressure of at least about 5000 psi and as a consequence substantially to resist plastic deformation under such pressure.」,中文意思是,一個「物體」的容量(capacity)在至少約5000 psi(磅每平方英寸)壓力下維持其「密度」與「體積」實質零變化,以及在此壓力下抵抗有任何塑性變形。

但是否符合上述硬度條件就是rigid了?

CAFC解釋時,以案例Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1312-19 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc)為原則解釋專利範圍(參考Phillips v. AWH),以相關領域技術人員可以瞭解、根據說明書、審查歷史、外部證據為輔解釋用語。

The court looks to those sources available to the public that show what a person of skill in the art would have understood disputed claim language to mean. Those sources include the words of the claims themselves, the remainder of the specification, the prosecution history, and extrinsic evidence concerning relevant scientific principles, the meaning of technical terms, and the state of the art.

雖然被告主張專利權人在專利審查期間已經拋棄了「聚合物」顆粒,但是就各種證據(主要是說明書實施例)來看,CAFC仍將rigid顆粒解釋包含了單體(monomeric)顆粒與聚合物顆粒,只要在上述定義下的顆粒都是。

CAFC決定,以上證據足夠讓陪審團認定被告「30 μm產品」為"rigid"。

第二個爭議:greater than about 30μm
被告「25 μm/30 μm產品」為"rigid",但是否落於其他專利特徵內?就要討論是否落於系爭專利範圍中「greater than about 30 μm」的條件中?

「25 μm產品」顯然並不符合「文義讀取」。

但地方法院解釋"greater than about 30μm"並沒有涵蓋直徑為25 μm的顆粒,因為這句話甚至都排除了"29.01 μm"。

CAFC認為,地院解釋不僅將被告25 μm產品排除在外,也將「about」用語排除了

顯然,CAFC法官認為「about」在專利範圍中具有一定的影響,考量了申請人申請時寫為「greater than about 30 μm」,而不是「greater than 30 μm」,由此可知,申請人不希望排除如29 μm的顆粒。

引用案例Bicon,以眼看去給予所有請求項用語的效果來解釋專利範圍。甚至也提到"approximately"意思是「合理接近」,並沒有明確底線。


法官也認為,「about」並沒有通用的意思,而是根據技術事實與案件實際情況,這裡就教育我們「about」怎麼解釋:

用在數值,"about"排除了嚴格的數值邊界,其範圍必須在其技術和文體前後文解釋。
"When “about” is used as part of a numeric range, “the use of the word ‘about,’ avoids a strict numerical boundary to the specified parameter. Its range must be interpreted in its technologic and stylistic context.”"

怎麼解釋"about 30μm"是可以到多小?就看寫成about 30μm的意圖,也就是整體申請專利範圍的意圖,也就是說,在本案中,顆粒"about 30μm"的底線到多大的尺寸還可以運作申請專利範圍所記載的發明

"In other words, we must look to the purpose that the “about 30 μm” limitation serves, to determine how much smaller than 30 μm the average particle diameter can be and still serve that purpose. To be clear, it is the purpose of the limitation in the claimed invention—not the purpose of the invention itself—that is relevant. Thus, we ask what function the “about 30 μm” low-end limit on particle size plays in the operation of the claimed apparatus and method."

回到說明書實施例中,提到平均顆粒直徑的幾個數值:50 μm, 20 μm, and 10 μm產生的流動率,而提到使用 20 μm與10 μm顆粒時,不會形成「turbulence」,50 μm顆粒可以,又說這些顆粒大小不一,但在一定形狀與大小範圍內,甚至為不規則形狀的顆粒,


說明書這段內容讓CAFC法官最終認定「about 30 μm」涵蓋到25 μm的顆粒。



這句話的42.39 μm仍被發明人認為是「about 50 μm」範圍中,依照比例,「about 30 μm」可以涵蓋到25.434 μm到34.566 μm之間。也順便算了一下「about 20μm」上下限為16.956 μm與23.044 μm。再配合一些合理的邏輯,最後法官得到他要的判斷依據。


"“about 30 μm” means a particle of sufficiently large size to assure that a column containing the particles is capable of attaining turbulence."

真是個...特別的判斷方式,但是說實在的,這個"精準"的判斷也不見得是發明人當初的本意。

其實還有一個形成「法官偏向專利權人的心證」的理由,就是,被告Waters一方解釋專利範圍時,刻意排除了「about」用語,而申請人在專利審查過程並未定義明確的"about"範圍,使得被告解釋範圍不合理。

但,以上述方式解釋「about」,這是「文義讀取」還是「均等論適用」的階段?

要澄清的是,以上解釋「about 30μm」都還在「解釋專利範圍」的步驟,還沒有到侵權判斷,更沒有到均等論適用(function, way, result)等判斷。

CAFC認為地院對於「文義讀取」的分析是錯的,而對「均等論適用」,法院認為這不是用來「放寬專利範圍」,反而是,發明本身產生較寬的應用才適用均等論。本案不適用均等論。

"We have never held that the doctrine of equivalents is inapplicable to broad claims; to the contrary, we have emphasized that pioneering inventions often, by their very nature, result in broader application of the doctrine of equivalents."

而是,申請專利範圍使用了「about」用語,這個用語涵蓋了執行相同功能、用相同方式,產生如30μm結果的顆粒。

"As our construction makes clear, “about 30 μm” encompasses particle diameters that perform the same function, in the same way, with the same result as the 30 μm particles, as long as those diameters are within the range left open by the specific disclosures of the specification."

結論是,因為解釋專利範圍已經讓「about 30μm」在文義上有一定的範圍,涵蓋任何可以執行相同功能、用相同的方式,產生相同結果直徑的顆粒,而不是因為「均等論」而放大範圍的。本案發回重審。

"because the “about 30 μm” limitation already literally encompasses diameters that are equivalent to 30 μm in the context of the patent, any particle diameter that performs the same function, in the same way, with the same result as a 30 μm diameter is already within the literal scope of the claim."

my two cents:
本案例的資訊是來自工業技術研究院「從美國訴訟淺談專利撰寫答辯及請求項用語解釋研討會」的議程所揭示的內容。


面對一些不明確用語,其實在相關領域中應該具備其通常定義,只是在法院侵權判斷中仍需要客觀的數據支持。

"rigid"怎麼定義,此案例也告訴了我們。

我認為CAFC法官"看穿了申請人的心意",或說他實在很幫專利權人的忙,甚至超過原本發明的意圖(我覺得),當申請人/發明人使用了「about」,意圖是很明顯,就是希望可以涵蓋30 μm上下一定的範圍,要不然也不會加入「about」,我認為這是很客觀或是睿智的判斷(用很精準的數學概念來看)。

當然,「不明確用語」怎麼解釋,常常仍是case by case,就「合理地」解釋就是了。

「說明書/實施例」在這樣不明確用語的解釋仍擔負了太重要的功能

資料參考:

Ron