2015年6月4日 星期四

1957年Crowded Art答辯經典案例 - In re Hummer, 241 F. 2d 742, 744 (C.C.P.A. 1957)

In re Hummer, 241 F. 2d 742, 744 (C.C.P.A. 1957)



系爭專利US2,797,573揭露一種多層薄板製作的隔板(laminated partition),這是用於分隔建築物內區域的石膏隔板(gypsum wallboard),不是承載用的。當年先前技術顯示為使用灰泥(熟石膏)板(plaster board),置入紙作的護套內,專利申請人Hummer(上訴人)在專利說明書中也提到這類使用熟石膏的先前技術,甚至也提到申請人自己的前專利案US2,123,677述及利用多層薄板形成的隔板的優點。

此案在發明描述中,作為「牆」的用途,並無須一種支撐隔間牆面的間柱(studding),僅僅使用在天花板或底板的錨(anchored)作為支撐,而為了強化結構,使用多層薄板經壓層形成的隔板,隔板邊緣使用互相疊合的接頭(lap joint),形成牆的多個隔板之間也不是直接貼合,具有間隔,其中填充一些材料,材料中將存在有間隙,整體具有為一個隔板六倍厚度的牆版(wallboard)。

以上就是本次系爭請求項範圍的描述,標的為「hollow sectional plaster board partition」,大約就是習知常見隔板的多層變化,目的是強固結構,也省去隔板之間需要的間柱。

Claims 1, 2當時為系爭Claims 22, 23,顯然是經過一番激戰!
1. A hollow sectional plaster board partition each section composed of two spaced paper sheathed face plaster boards of equal width and laterally offset, and a spacer at each lateral edge comprising a relatively narrow filler strip of paper sheathed plaster board between and adhesively secured to each facelboard and having its outer edge disposed midway between the offset edges ofthe face boards, the thickness of` the` filler strip and of the face boards being substantially the same and the exposed face of the filler strip being at least three times its thickness, whereby the edges of the section have two stepsrof equal length and height, two adjacent sections being joined in the same plane with their two-step complementary edges fitting together in face to face contact across the full width of the steps with the overlapping faces adhesively joined and the edges of the face boards and spacers of the two sections abutting and making a solid joint, and a vertical series of screws entered through the overlapping step portion of each face board and passing freely through said overlapping portion and extending through the spacer and into the inner layer of the face board of the opposing section, whereby the screw threads obtain a purchase on the paper sheathings and adhesive between the overlapping faces of the joints and serve thereby as clamping means to hold` the faces of said joints firmly together in contact while the adhesive on said faces is hardening in the erection of the partition.

2. A hollow sectional plaster board partition as described in claim 1, wherein each of the face plaster boards and of the ller strips is of laminated construction, each lamination comprising a plaster sheet yentirely sheathed on its opposite faces with paper.



  1. 系爭專利發明已經於1947年到1952年安裝於275間房屋上,為「商業上成功」的證據;
  2. 獲得聯邦房屋管理局(Federal Housing Administration approval)認證;
  3. 費用上較傳統熟石膏的隔板並不見得便宜,但卻不相上下(favorably with);
  4. 一位建商老闆挺身證明採用系爭專利的技術,發現比傳統需要間柱的熟石膏隔板更堅固。
就系爭專利所處技術領域中,建材為常見而發展完善的技術領域("The building art is one of the oldest known to man and it can aptly be described as "crowded." "),而申請人所提出的發明僅是小幅度的改良("narrow improvement"),即便處於此類擁擠的技術領域(crowded art)中,仍需要進步,總是小量進步,與處於技術先驅者一樣重要。

"Progress is as important, however, in crowded arts as well as in those which are in the pioneer stage, In re Tamarin, 187 F.2d 160, 38 C.C.P.A., Patents, 872, and such progress is usually made in small increments. The question before us is whether applicant's limited advance is such as is entitled to patent protection under the law."

比對最相近先前技術Bartholomew案時,結構上除了隔板組成的牆板邊緣的接頭(joint)外,都為相近的結構,這個差異成為本案是否在crowded art中為非顯而易見的關鍵。對此結構,訴願委員會審查員參考MullerWittner案,認為前案已經揭示在建材上的連接用的接頭,雖材料不同,連接結構不同,但是用途一致,系爭專利請求項所載發明為顯而易見。接著提出上訴。

上訴法官認為雖MullerWittner案也有接頭,不過所要連接的結構仍有差異,連接關係不同。當法官根據Wittner案重建系爭專利的技術時,認為Wittner案並未如訴願委員的意見有教示系爭專利的技術,同意上訴人主張訴願委員證明先前文獻教示系爭專利時「企圖在使用第二參考文獻修改第一參考文獻前就意欲修改第二參考文獻("proposes to modify the secondary reference before it is employed to modify the primary reference")」,也就是認為作為先前文獻的Wittner案僅因其清楚揭露或是建議的技術,而修改它並非是作為先前文獻的正確用途。


其中見解頗值得參考,法官承認,如果光看建材加工技術,可能會認為系爭專利為顯而易知的技術,但是如果論及先前技術的使用以及系爭專利為何採用如此接頭與結合關係,就會得到系爭專利為了強固特定本案的結構所採取的措施並非是習知技術所會想到的,法官不認為,沒有系爭專利的揭示,習知技術有建議任何如系爭專利牆板的組合(這句話很厲害:"We do not see that the references, without the benefit of the applicant's disclosure, fairly suggest this combination in the wallboard art.")。

"The claimed combination includes the two-step lap joint, plus the adhesive, plus the screws, inserted in a particular way with relation to the panel elements. We do not see that the references, without the benefit of the applicant's disclosure, fairly suggest this combination in the wallboard art."

結論引用In re McKenna, 203 F.2d 717, 721, 40 C.C.P.A., Patents, 937, 943案例的論點:申請人所提出的方法可能可以在各樣的專利中找到,但並不足以否定其發明;更者,相關技術概念如果是新而有用以及無法預期的,當考量發明是否有專利性,應與實際達成該技術概念的步驟一同考量。

"The mere fact that elements of applicants' process may be found in various patents does not necessarily negative invention. * * * Moreover, the concept of doing a thing, the result of which is new and useful and unexpected, must be considered along with the actual steps of doing it in considering the presence or absence of invention and patentability."