2015年9月29日 星期二

專利說明書[Summary]討論

專利說明書有很多規定要有的內容,比如發明名稱、摘要、發明技術領域、先前技術、發明概要(Summary)/發明內容、實施方式與申請專利範圍。是否少一個部分就會影響專利獲准,答案是:"是的",因為專利說明書撰寫方式在各國專利法與審查基準都有規定。

中華民國專利取得申請日的條件,如:中華民國專利法第25條第2項就規定取得專利申請日的要件:申請書、說明書、申請專利範圍與必要的圖式;接著第26條就規定說明書揭露方式制定在施行細則,在第17條,顯然「發明內容」不是可以忽略不記的部分,否則會以不符專利法第26條規定核駁(說明書、申請專利範圍、摘要及圖式之揭露方式,於本法施行細則定之)。

第十七條 申請發明專利者,其說明書應載明下列事項:
一、發明名稱。 
二、技術領域。 
三、先前技術:申請人所知之先前技術,並得檢送該先前技術之相關資料。
四、發明內容:發明所欲解決之問題、解決問題之技術手段及對照先前技術之功效 。 
五、圖式簡單說明:有圖式者,應以簡明之文字依圖式之圖號順序說明圖式。 
六、實施方式:記載一個以上之實施方式,必要時得以實施例說明;有圖式者,應 參照圖式加以說明。 
七、符號說明:有圖式者,應依圖號或符號順序列出圖式之主要符號並加以說明。

中國專利實務上對於「發明內容」的審查頗為嚴格,除了一定要將獨立請求項範圍貼上發明內容,更有些代理人就一股腦兒將所有獨立項、附屬項內容都貼上發明內容。其實就是避免有任何「不一致」而被核駁的可能。

专利法实施细则」:
第十七條:"(三)发明内容:写明发明或者实用新型所要解决的技术问题以及解决其技术问题采用的技术方案,并对照现有技术写明发明或者实用新型的有益效果;"
4.7.2审查说明书和摘要
"(2)各权利要求的技术方案所表述的请求保护的范围能否在说明书中找到根据,且说明书中发明内容部分所述的技术方案与权利要求所限定的相应技术方案的表述是否一致"

美國專利說明書也是規定有類似的幾個部分,在其細則37C.F.R.1.77規定了專利申請書內容的編排,應以下列內容順序提交:申請遞交表格、費用、申請資料、說明書、圖式與發明人宣誓書等。其中「說明書」內容順序應記載:發明名稱、 相關申請案記載(cross reference)、聯邦研發贊助資訊、共同研發各方名稱、程式序列、發明人或共同發明的申請前揭露內容、發明背景、發明簡單概要(summary)、圖式簡要說明、發明細節描述、申請專利範圍、摘要等。這部分其實也被要求要與專利範圍一致,甚至專利獲准後應該依照獲准專利範圍來改,不過,實務上若沒有實質上的多大差異,比較少有大幅修改的必要

其中本篇有興趣的在「Summary」的記載是否必要,參見37 C.F.R. 1.73規定,發明簡單概要(brief Summary)/發明內容記載於發明細節內容(實施方式)前,可包括請求項主張的發明目的,而且應該與請求項主張發明相稱(commensurate with the invention as claimed),這如我們一般實務上約略記載請求項1等獨立請求項的發明內容一致,不過實務上,美國專利並沒有需要如此拘謹。

發明簡單概要的記載主要是讓公眾可以簡要了解本發明,因此記載上應該清楚、簡要,因此適當地記載算是可以讓閱覽的人快速理解本發明,這也是平常閱讀一個專利公報時最快進入發明為何的方式之一,特別是檢索,這個比摘要更多內容的檢索欄位很重要。其中若有只是應付有這個段落的格式的一般性內容,可能會被要求刪除或修改。

特別的是,這也常常被忽略,當申請專利範圍修改與申請時有些差異時,到了準備獲准專利時,審查委員經通盤檢視後,可以要求同步修改Summary,使之與申請專利範圍一致,這規定在MPEP 1302.01:"the examiner should require the applicant to modify the brief summary of the invention and restrict the descriptive matter so as to be in harmony with the claims"。

綜上所述,好像brief summary不是重要的內容,既然不是重要的部分,似乎也不影響專利獲准,又不希望限制專利範圍的主張,即便有以上規定,也有不少專利直接就忽略本段。經簡單檢索,brief summary也可能會整篇被忽略(應該就美國這樣吧!),這種還蠻多的,比如:

US8171177
整篇沒有Summary這段

US8959217

US7107432
這篇沒有Summray,倒是有段「disclosure of invention」,這應該就是summary!


法條參考:

MPEP 608.01(a)   Arrangement of Application

37 C.F.R. 1.77   Arrangement of application elements.

  • (a) The elements of the application, if applicable, should appear in the following order:
    • (1) Utility application transmittal form.
    • (2) Fee transmittal form.
    • (3) Application data sheet (see § 1.76).
    • (4) Specification.
    • (5) Drawings.
    • (6) The inventor’s oath or declaration.
  • (b) The specification should include the following sections in order:
    • (1) Title of the invention, which may be accompanied by an introductory portion stating the name, citizenship, and residence of the applicant (unless included in the application data sheet).
    • (2) Cross-reference to related applications.
    • (3) Statement regarding federally sponsored research or development.
    • (4) The names of the parties to a joint research agreement.
    • (5) Reference to a “Sequence Listing,” a table, or a computer program listing appendix submitted on a compact disc and an incorporation-by-reference of the material on the compact disc (see § 1.52(e)(5)). The total number of compact discs including duplicates and the files on each compact disc shall be specified.
    • (6) Statement regarding prior disclosures by the inventor or a joint inventor.
    • (7) Background of the invention.
    • (8) Brief summary of the invention.
    • (9) Brief description of the several views of the drawing.n.
    • (10) Detailed description of the invention.
    • (11) A claim or claims.
    • (12) Abstract of the disclosure.
    • (13) “Sequence Listing,” if on paper (see §§ 1.821 through 1.825).
  • (c) The text of the specification sections defined in paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(12) of this section, if applicable, should be preceded by a section heading in uppercase and without underlining or bold type.

MPEP 608.01(d)   Brief Summary of Invention

37 C.F.R. 1.73   Summary of the invention.

A brief summary of the invention indicating its nature and substance, which may include a statement of the object of the invention, should precede the detailed description. Such summary should, when set forth, be commensurate with the invention as claimed and any object recited should be that of the invention as claimed.
Since the purpose of the brief summary of invention is to apprise the public, and more especially those interested in the particular art to which the invention relates, of the nature of the invention, the summary should be directed to the specific invention being claimed, in contradistinction to mere generalities which would be equally applicable to numerous preceding patents. That is, the subject matter of the invention should be described in one or more clear, concise sentences or paragraphs. Stereotyped general statements that would fit one application as well as another serve no useful purpose and may well be required to be canceled as surplusage, and, in the absence of any illuminating statement, replaced by statements that are directly on point as applicable exclusively to the case at hand.
The brief summary, if properly written to set out the exact nature, operation, and purpose of the invention, will be of material assistance in aiding ready understanding of the patent in future searches. The brief summary should be more than a mere statement of the objects of the invention, which statement is also permissible under 37 CFR 1.73.

The brief summary of invention should be consistent with the subject matter of the claims. Note final review of application and preparation for issue, MPEP § 1302.

MPEP 1302.01   GENERAL REVIEW OF DISCLOSURE
When an application is apparently ready for allowance, it should be reviewed by the examiner to make certain that the whole application meets all formal and substantive (i.e., statutory) requirements and that the language of the claims is enabled by, and finds adequate descriptive support in, the application disclosure as originally filed. Neglect to give due attention to these matters may lead to confusion as to the scope of the patent.
Frequently, the invention as originally described and claimed was of much greater scope than that defined in the claims as allowed. Some or much of the subject matter disclosed may be entirely outside the bounds of the claims accepted by the applicant. In such case, the examiner should require the applicant to modify the brief summary of the invention and restrict the descriptive matter so as to be in harmony with the claims. However valuable for reference purposes the examiner may consider the matter which is extraneous to the claimed invention, patents should be confined in their disclosures to the respective inventions patented (see 37 CFR 1.71 and 1.73). Of course, enough background should be included to make the invention clearly understandable. See MPEP § 608.01(c) and § 608.01(d). Form paragraphs 13.07 and 13.08 may be used.

即便規定「發明內容」應為專利說明書記載的一部分,但是卻有人認為沒有這部分,也不會影響專利獲准。

參考:(James Long律師提供參考)
Non-mandatory nature of Summary
http://uspto-mpep.ideascale.com/a/dtd/Non-mandatory-nature-of-Summary/100977-9426

這個地方的討論認為用說明書沒有Summary作為核駁理由是不當的。

Ron

2015年9月28日 星期一

回復刪掉的內容

筆記

回復刪掉的內容 - MPEP 608.01(s)

說明書--
有必要時,雖然不太了解為何(錯誤,或是不想公開內容等吧!),刪掉部分說明書內容,刪掉的部分可以在日後修正以"新增"的方式加回說明書(可能是反悔刪除,有助於專利範圍獲准等的考量吧!)。

依照37 CFR 1.121(b)(4),表示不同於請求項刪除又回復要以新增方式加入的方式,說明書畢竟要顧及前後文順暢與描述的邏輯,所以刪除的部分就用編修、取代段落等修正的方式加入。

請求項--
刪除請求項就常見了,這些刪除的範圍,在公告獲准前,尚不能稱為拋棄(surrender)的範圍,仍可以以"新增"的方式加入請求項範圍,不是"恢復"過去的"canceled claim",而是以新的編號的"new claim"表示。

法條參考:

MPEP 608.01(s)   Restoration of Canceled Matter

Canceled text in the specification can be reinstated only by a subsequent amendment presenting the previously canceled matter as a new insertion. 37 CFR 1.121(b)(4). A claim canceled by amendment (deleted in its entirety) may be reinstated only by a subsequent amendment presenting the claim as a new claim with a new claim number. 37 CFR 1.121(c)(5). See MPEP § 714.

37 CFR 1.121(b)(4)
(b) Specification. Amendments to the specification, other than the claims, computer listings (§ 1.96) and sequence listings (§ 1.825), must be made by adding, deleting or replacing a paragraph, by replacing a section, or by a substitute specification, in the manner specified in this section.
(4) Reinstatement of previously deleted paragraph or section. A previously deleted paragraph or section may be reinstated only by a subsequent amendment adding the previously deleted paragraph or section.

37 CFR 1.121(c)(5)
(c) Claims. Amendments to a claim must be made by rewriting the entire claim with all changes (e.g., additions and deletions) as indicated in this subsection, except when the claim is being canceled. Each amendment document that includes a change to an existing claim, cancellation of an existing claim or addition of a new claim, must include a complete listing of all claims ever presented, including the text of all pending and withdrawn claims, in the application. The claim listing, including the text of the claims, in the amendment document will serve to replace all prior versions of the claims, in the application. In the claim listing, the status of every claim must be indicated after its claim number by using one of the following identifiers in a parenthetical expression: (Original), (Currently amended), (Canceled), (Withdrawn), (Previously presented), (New), and (Not entered).
(5) Reinstatement of previously canceled claim. A claim which was previously canceled may be reinstated only by adding the claim as a “new” claim with a new claim number.

Ron

2015年9月25日 星期五

USPTO官網提供PDF專利文件下載

(從USPTO網頁得知這是2014年底就宣佈的功能,這裡只是後知後覺!)

您怎麼取得專利的PDF文件?

美國專利局一直以來都用TIFF格式讓人一頁一頁查閱,十分不方便,雖個人也用了幾年,後來知道不少網站都會自動收集這些TIFF檔合成一個完整的PDF檔案,還有些要付費的,有些是檢索網頁、工具提供PDF檔,過去曾在幾次介紹一些瀏覽器外掛有直接查詢時取得檔案功能(如2008年的介紹:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2008/08/mozilla-firefox-aspator.html),這幾年就用Google Patents,更是快速得到PDF檔案的重要來源之一。

不過,現在USPTO也改變了提供單頁或多頁,並包括下載功能的PDF瀏覽方式。這樣可以彌補最新公告專利還無法從Google得到的缺點,直接就用USPTO下載即可。

"The USPTO Patent and Published Application Image Databases now use PDF images instead of TIFF images. Document images may be viewed, printed and saved using a standard PDF-equipped browser. In addition to the standard page-by-page viewing, users may now also click on a .Full Document. button to retrieve and save all the images for a document in a single multi-page PDF."


列舉範例:
比如這件Google最新公開(Sep.24,2015公開)的專利案US20150271246(Adaptive Accelerated Application Startup),USPTO直接可以下載全部內容的PDF檔案。現在(Sep.25,2015)還無法從Google取得,但直接從USPTO合成檔案的pat2pdf.org倒是已經可以下載內容了。

這是Google公開案:




也列舉一件剛獲准的專利,Google Patents僅能找到這件案子的公開內容,還不能取得獲准專檔案:




我的資訊來源:https://blog.oppedahl.com/?p=1025

Ron

2015年9月24日 星期四

雀巢KitKat巧克力四指商標被駁回

Nestlé KitKat
(影像來源:雀巢官網)
(影像取自:http://www.theguardian.com/)

以上是雀巢公司(Nestlé Co.)巧克力產品KitKat,打開後,就是四條淋上巧克力醬的餅乾的內容,雀巢就用這個印象申請商標,本次爭議在英國商標。

根據來源文章表示,雀巢這個產品始自1935年,到了2010年才決定將此「four-finger」外觀提出商標申請,最初成功登錄,不過,Cadbury對此提出異議,一路從高等法院到歐盟司法院(CJEU),最後被駁回。(本次異議對象為英國商標案)

雀巢答辯此案時,還作了市場調查,將立體形式的four-finger圖案給一般民眾看,多數人可以認出這是雀巢的KitKat,這顯然滿足商標的識別性的要件。

然而,這個市調並不滿足商標的定義,理由是雖然調查證明這個four-finger形狀連結到產品KitKat,但卻不保證形狀單獨的商標可以辨識為雀巢的產品。歐盟司法院也提出疑問,是否當沒有其他商標(如商標"KitKat")使用時,此four-finger形狀仍可以單獨用來識別出雀巢產品?

這顯然是涉及,當此雀巢four-finger形狀作為商標申請時,過於簡單的形狀是否可以單獨成為識別其產品的商標?也就是針對雀巢將此four-finger形狀視為辨識此巧克力KitKat產品的主張,法院於是要確認:是否這four-finger形狀單獨已經足夠成為雀巢此產品的商標,而不用其他商標一起使用?

判決書分析此商標申請案的特點:長條厚片、四周有溝槽、分割出幾個手指finger。
the basic rectangular slab shape;
the presence, position and depth of the grooves running along the length of the bar, and
the number of grooves, which, together with the width of the bar, determine the number of ‘fingers’


根據1994年商標法,CJEU駁回商標申請登記,理由如以下幾點不得取得商標的規定:商標形狀來自產品本身(本次爭議商標的形狀顯然是來自巧克力本身)、產品形狀為達到技術結果的必須條件(本次爭議商標的形狀為掰開巧克力的技術手段)、商標形狀提供商標實質價值。

TMA 3(2):
(2)A sign shall not be registered as a trade mark if it consists exclusively of—
(a)the shape which results from the nature of the goods themselves,
(b)the shape of goods which is necessary to obtain a technical result, or
(c)the shape which gives substantial value to the goods.

當這個商標形狀涉及產品本身,也就是巧克力棒,還有涉及生產時必要的功能,如溝槽有技術目的,就無法取得商標權。

以上資訊提供想要申請商標(歐盟商標)的人參考!

my two cents:
雖多數人可以用雀巢這個商標申請案辨識出這是雀巢產品,似乎具有識別性,但是這也與商標取得愈來愈困難有關,商標本身形狀、文字的意義不能直接聯想到某個產品、也不能將達成某功能所產生的必要特徵作為商標,甚至商標文字本身都不能有描述商品的內容等。

補充,本次系爭商標案在英國(United Kingdom),不過可以從OHIM可以找到以下登記商標,不只四指,還有兩指與三指。



附錄:
TMA 3規定不可商標的限制:
3 Absolute grounds for refusal of registration.
(1)The following shall not be registered—
(a)signs which do not satisfy the requirements of section 1(1),
(b)trade marks which are devoid of any distinctive character,
(c)trade marks which consist exclusively of signs or indications which may serve, in trade, to designate the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin, the time of production of goods or of rendering of services, or other characteristics of goods or services,
(d)trade marks which consist exclusively of signs or indications which have become customary in the current language or in thebona fide and established practices of the trade:Provided that, a trade mark shall not be refused registration by virtue of paragraph (b), (c) or (d) above if, before the date of application for registration, it has in fact acquired a distinctive character as a result of the use made of it.
(2)A sign shall not be registered as a trade mark if it consists exclusively of—
(a)the shape which results from the nature of the goods themselves,
(b)the shape of goods which is necessary to obtain a technical result, or
(c)the shape which gives substantial value to the goods.
(3)A trade mark shall not be registered if it is—
(a)contrary to public policy or to accepted principles of morality, or
(b)of such a nature as to deceive the public (for instance as to the nature, quality or geographical origin of the goods or service).
(4)A trade mark shall not be registered if or to the extent that its use is prohibited in the United Kingdom by any enactment or rule of law or by any provision of Community law.
(5)A trade mark shall not be registered in the cases specified, or referred to, in section 4 (specially protected emblems).
(6)A trade mark shall not be registered if or to the extent that the application is made in bad faith.

歐盟司法院(Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU))判決書:
http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=167821&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=5377

參考文章:
http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2015/09/19/european-court-denies-nestle-four-fingered-kitkat-trademark-after-cadbury-objection/id=61694/

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/11/nestle-kitkat-trademark-eu-law-shape

Ron

2015年9月23日 星期三

歐洲軟體專利案例討論

參考文件:http://documents.epo.org/projects/babylon/eponet.nsf/0/a0be115260b5ff71c125746d004c51a5/$FILE/patents_for_software_en.pdf

先前報導:
歐洲軟體專利討論(與美國的軟體專利比較)
http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/10/blog-post.html

軟體專利,正式來說,是電腦實現的發明(computer-implemented invention),包括計算機的使用、電腦網路、可程式的裝置,其中全部或一部分的技術特徵仰賴電腦程式。

然而在EPC的實務上,純電腦軟體(software as such)是不可專利的標的,這是一種著作權標的,實務上,至少這幾年的趨勢,卻可能還比美國更寬鬆一點,只要電腦軟體發明有解決技術上的問題,就為可專利的標的。嚴格地說,請求項所界定的發明中具有新穎性、進步性的特別技術特徵(STF)解決了特定技術問題,即為可專利標的。反觀美國實務,即便具有新穎性與進步性的技術特徵,都仍可能遭遇不符101的問題。當然,其中涉及定義何謂解決技術問題的技術特徵?

這裡幾段非常友善的描述可供參考:
"The subject-matter for which protection is sought must therefore have a "technical character" or, to
be more precise, involve a "technical teaching", i.e. instruction, addressed to a technically skilled person as to how to solve a particular technical problem using particular technical means."

"inventions having a technical character that are or may be implemented by a computer program are not excluded from patentability."

"EPO case law says that controlling or carrying out a technical process is not excluded from patentability, irrespective of whether it is implemented by hardware or by software. Whether the process is carried out by means of special circuits or by means of a computer program has been found to depend on economic and technological factors; patentability should not be denied on the grounds that a computer program is involved."

不諱言地,EPO建議用「computer program/computer program product」作為軟體專利的保護標的,而非是一個系統的一部分而已,不會因為此專利標的名稱而排除其可專利性。軟體專利的可專利性是看發明是否有超越一般物理交互作用的技術效果(具有解決特定技術問題的技術特徵)。
"Subject-matter claimed under this form is not excluded from patentability if the computer program resulting from implementation of the corresponding method is capable of bringing about, when running on a computer or loaded into a computer, a "further technical effect" going beyond the "normal" physical interactions between the computer program and the computer hardware on which it is run."

這裡列舉何謂「執行軟體的一般物理交互作用的效果」,如電流本身就無法賦予電腦程式有技術特點。所謂更多的技術效果如:以軟體達成的工業程序控制(自動控制)、機器運作,以及電腦內部產生的功能(記憶體管理、程式控制等)等。

如果是以「數學方法」解決特定問題,數學方法本身為非可專利標的,但是利用數學方法實現解決特定問題的方法,這並不排除其可專利性。比如加解密方法仍為可專利的技術方法,這在美國,恐怕已經是不能專利的標的。
"Although the idea underlying such a method may be considered to reside in a mathematical method, the encoding method as a whole is not a mathematical method "as such", and hence is not excluded from patentability by Article 52(2)(a) and (3) EPC. Similarly, a method of encrypting/ decrypting or signing electronic communications may be regarded as a technical method, even if it is essentially based on a mathematical method."


建立前述觀念的相關軟體案例:

Circuit simulation I/Infineon Technologies (T 1227/05)
這是一件2006年的訴願委員會決定,結論包括,以數學方法作電路模擬的功能已經足夠建立以軟體為手段的技術目的,其中以電腦實現的數學模擬方法本身已經形成一個程序的關鍵部分,這類技術不能以沒有包含終端產品而被視為沒有可專利性。

專利權人:Infineon Technologies AG
系爭專利:No. 01964907.8

系爭專利揭露一種產生一系列1/f噪聲的方法(Method for the generation of a series of random numbers of a 1/f noise),是創造一個噪聲源,用來模擬電路上的噪聲效應。

請求項範圍1包括了計算噪聲因子的方程式。

其他項次也具有數學方程式:

在歐洲專利局審查過程中,此申請案被視為僅為心智活動或是數學方法本身,而被排除其可專利性而核駁。

經專利權人上訴後,訴願委員會認為,在檢視進步性時,考量此模擬方法的發明是否有技術貢獻,故此,應審查其中數學方程式是否在獨立請求項中具有技術貢獻。

專利申請人訴願理由包括說明系爭專利並非單純的數學方法,而是在數值電路模擬時解決電子工程上的問題,在模擬電路時,噪聲可能讓電路有瑕疵,因此該方法可以在早期利用模擬發現這些問題,這就產生了技術貢獻。

系爭專利的方法應用了數學方程式產生隨機的噪聲,相對於其他技術,此方法縮短了計算時間與較少的儲存空間,可以用在效能比較低的電腦上,或是因為消耗較小的資訊而可以用在更大的電路系統上,這些效果都建立了超越電腦程式與系統的一般交互作用的技術效果。

訴願委員會同意專利申請人的訴願理由,認為確實這樣的數學模擬方法已經足夠可以建立以電腦實現方法的技術目的,請求項範圍中以差動方程式描述的的輸入電路、噪聲輸入(input channel)、輸出通道已經界定出技術元件,認同獨立請求項中以功能性的限制具有技術性。

訴願委員會決定,系爭專利請求項範圍中的數學方程式並非軟體程式本身,並非是人類心智活動或是數學方法而已,而是一種執行現代工程任務的技術(technical functions typical to modern engineering work),有實際上的技術貢獻。

最後以進步性討論到系爭專利請求項是否有技術貢獻,因為其中模擬方法相較於其他習知技術有技術效果(較快、資源需求小),具有進步性。

本案因為證實「解決了特定技術上的問題」,表示在歐洲以基於說明書描述的功能性用語的答辯仍具有效果,之後是發回原審查單位審理,最終獲准專利EP1257904


其他曾於本部落格討論過的案例:

Two identities/Comvik (T 641/00)
過去報導:
http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2015/03/blog-post_17.html

此案提供的意義是,並非發明本身不可專利,而是其中具有技術特點的特徵已經被先前技術揭露,其餘部分因為不具技術特點,沒有技術貢獻,沒有解決技術問題,不具進步性。
"決定出專利技術解決的問題與技術,再辨別出相關技術領域中最相近的先前技術,相較之下,可以判斷出該發明是否具有技術特徵(具有可以區隔先前技術而對發明有貢獻的技術),再以此判斷專利是否具有進步性"

Auction method/Hitachi (T 258/03)
過去報導:
http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2010/06/blog-post_22.html
http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2008/12/blog-post_24.html

請求項所載軟體發明,經新穎性與進步性的檢驗後,只要有一技術元件存在,其本身就不是單純的電腦軟體。
"根據Hitachi判例,若在權利範圍中具有至少一個技術元件(technical element),如電腦、儲存媒體(CD)等,就其本身而言(as such),則可視為非電腦軟體(針對不可專利的規定)"

EPO相關內容:
http://www.epo.org/news-issues/issues/software.html

Ron

2015年9月21日 星期一

可專利性審查方針更新筆記

2014年因為Alice判例產生的關係,致使USPTO對於35USC101可專利性審查提出審查方針,可參考部落格文章:

USPTO可專利性教戰守則 - TWO-STEP TEST(2014年12月16日)
http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/12/uspto-two-step-test.html

今年7月提出可專利性審查方針更新,有網站說是大幅更新,但我覺得並不是多大的更新,因為這次更新主要是引述了自去年Alice判例與USPTO提出審查方針的一年來的法院案件,藉此提出比較具體的指示(2015年7月30日)。

本次審查方針更新有六個討論議題:

幾個議題涉及可專利性的TWO-STEP TEST:

(1) 有關抽象概念與自然律的範例(requests for additional examples, particularly for claims directed to abstract ideas and laws of nature):

有關抽象概念的專利範圍如商業方法(business method)、圖形使用者介面(graphical user interface)與軟體領域,在生物科技領域中,如診斷方法,與一些最近有關自然律與自然現象的案例等,都為一種抽象概念。(範例可參閱將來會討論的附件,如以下網路連結)

可以討論,即便一個專利元件並沒有超越自己本身功能時,如一般目的的電腦執行一般電腦功能(如數學運算、產生有關時間的數據等),但這元件如果與其他元件結合,仍可能符合「實質超越」的檢視。從範例可以讓審查委員釐清「實質超越"significantly more"」以及一些司法例外(judicial exception)等的判斷。

(2) 顯著特點分析(MDC)法則解釋(further explanation of the markedly different characteristics (MDC) analysis):

「顯著特點分析」可用於以上TWO-STEP測試中的步驟2A(主要意見),或是2A到2B的判斷。步驟2A主要是判斷請求項範圍是否符合可專利性要件:is the claim directed to a law of nature, a natural phenomenon, or an abstract idea (Judicially recognized exceptions) ?

MDC分析是法院在以上步驟2A中用來界定自然產物(product of nature)例外的依據,藉此判斷請求項範圍是否符合可專利的四種類別(35USC101),並判斷是否為司法例外,如果發明整體經分析後並非司法例外,則符合可專利標的的條件。

(3) 審查委員如何界定抽象概念(further information regarding how examiners identify abstract ideas):

當審查委員要識別出專利範圍是否為抽象概念時,應判斷發明是否落於司法例外,而狀況很多樣,也不會是過去常見的態樣,比如DNA的遺傳繼續,可以從是否為單純的發現判斷,是否為自然產物等。

可能會遭遇不可專利的技術如:
A. 基礎經濟活動
B. 組織人類活動的方法
C. 本身就是想法(an idea ‘of itself)
D. 數學關係與方程式

(4) 初步印象案件討論,以及專利性核駁理由的證據角色(discussion of the prima facie case and the role of evidence with respect to eligibility rejections):

審查委員提出不可專利的核駁理由時,有責任表示初步印象的核駁理由,相關的審查基準讓審查委員有依據作出此類核駁意見。審查委員應提出識別發明為司法例外的理由,以及解釋為何這些元件的結合沒有「實質超越」其元件本身的功能。

舉例來說(不限於這幾點),當判斷電腦僅為一般目的的電腦時,證明這個電腦僅執行已知、一般性與習知的功能,包括:執行重複性計算、接收處理與儲存資料、自文件掃描與擷取資料、記錄資料、自動化心智活動、透過網路接收或傳送資料等。

 performing repetitive calculations,
 receiving, processing, and storing data,
 electronically scanning or extracting data from a physical document,
 electronic record keeping,
 automating mental tasks, and
 receiving or transmitting data over a network, e.g., using the Internet to gather data.

(5) 有關2014年可專利標的過渡審查方針的應用(information regarding application of the 2014 IEG in the corps):

USPTO針對法院判例提出可專利性審查方針、訓練審查委員適當應用審查方針。

(6) 可專利性分析時的先佔角色解釋,包括簡化分析討論(explanation of the role of preemption in the eligibility analysis, including a discussion of the streamlined analysis):

在可專利性的分析中,先佔角色(role of preemption)就是讓審查委員可以快速簡化其可專利分析,判斷專利是否僅是先佔自然律、自然現象或是抽象概念的技術而已。法院前例中已經提出許多先佔(preemption)的概念,先佔的問題已經隱含在前述TWO-STEP TEST,法院使得司法例外的專利標的視為企圖先佔的專利標的,這類專利為不可專利的標的。

前述TWO-STEP測試中,步驟2A到2B如整個可專利性的分析,審查委員可以透過這兩個步驟簡化可專利性分析,不過,在步驟2B之後,也就是當判斷為不可專利標的之後,則非簡化的分析,這部分將仰賴審查委員判斷專利標的是否符合35USC101中的可專利標的的類別。


USPTO更新可專利性審查方針的檔案:
資料來源:
http://www.uspto.gov/patent/laws-and-regulations/examination-policy/2014-interim-guidance-subject-matter-eligibility-0

Federal Register Notice:
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-07-30/pdf/2015-18628.pdf

July 2015 Update on Subject Matter Eligibility:
http://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ieg-july-2015-update.pdf

另有三個附件,每個都值得討論:

Ron

2015年9月18日 星期五

程序錯誤造成不受理上訴的案例討論

地方法院前情可見:答辯過程修正並未影響均等論的適用-案例討論
http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/05/two-way-media-v-at-sa-09-c-476-wd-tx.html

地方法院階段的結論是(October 7, 2013),即便專利權人在系爭專利審查時曾經修正過,但所修正的部分為(以'187案為例)補入「wherein」子句,但此修正並非是依照審查委員提示的可核准範圍的方向修正,而是補入一段說明書說明時間參數的定義,這部份或者在均等論中無法擴及說明書以外的解釋範圍,但是卻也不影響本案取得均等論適用而讀入被告侵權物的決定。

因此,地方法院判決AT&T侵權成立(function, way, result),並作出損害賠償決定。

CAFC階段:
AT&T於是提出上訴,但是尷尬的是,並未及時提出上訴意見,地院拒絕重啟上訴程序,CAFC也同意此決定,不受理上訴理由。

此案在CAFC審理是否上訴有效的訴訟中,即便AT&T提出一些程序上的辯論,但是程序上的失誤仍造成AT&T所提出的motion都被否決。這裡就討論這些延期的請求(motion for extension of time)的要件:

地方法院可以同意上訴理由延遲的情況有:
1. 提出請求的時間也有限制:在上訴期限過期後30日內
2. 請求人應提出情有可原的正當理由(excusable neglect or good cause)

地方法院也應該在提起重啟(reopen)上訴程序後14天內對CAFC提出,這個重啟程序的要件有:
1. CAFC發現請求人(moving party)在地方法院作出判決後21日仍未收到判決通知時;
2. 請求人提出的motion在地方法院作出判決後180日內;或請求人接收到判決通知後14日內;以及
3. CAFC發現有任何一方權益受到損害時。

這件案例中,主要還是侵權被告AT&T並未及時提出上訴理由而被撤銷上訴權利,而且AT&T也無法提出延遲的正當理由。

這真的時「程序時間上的爭議」,告訴我們的是,程序對於行政、司法案件都是十分重要,並且代理人/律師的角色也十分重要,要盡到注意與告知的義務,並且其中涉及的電子郵件等通知系統並不足以作為證據。
(NEF: notice of electronic filing)

一些意見摘錄:




Ron

2015年9月16日 星期三

歐洲異議程序(opposition)

歐洲專利審查基準(Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office)中,Part D規範了歐洲專利異議、限制與撤銷程序,內容可參閱:
http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/guidelines/e/d.htm

歐洲異議程序(包括撤銷程序)規定於EPC Art. 99, 100, 101中。

歐洲異議程序僅能於專利核准公告後9個月內提出。異議結果效力及於歐洲專利會員國。

EPC 101第(1)項規定,當歐洲專利局受理異議案(opposition)時,異議部門將根據實施細則審理,判斷是否符合EPC 100的異議理由:(a)不符可專利標的;(b)沒有足夠清楚與完整而能讓相關技術人員可實現的內容;(c)專利標的超過說明書內容等。在審理過程中,異議部門應通常會要求各方相互提出意見。
EPC 101第(2)項規定,如果任一個異議理由成立,將撤銷專利權;否則則是駁回異議理由。
EPC 101第(3)項規定,異議過程的修正須符合實施細則的規定,否則將撤銷專利。

異議程序僅能於專利公告後9個月內提出,異議理由包括Art. 52/53規定的「可專利標的」、Art. 54規定的「新穎性」、Art. 54規定的「揭露要件」、Art. 56規定的「進步性」,以及Art. 57規定的「產業利用性」等,其他還有可針對修正是否超過揭露內容等方向提出異議。

異議審查流程:
  1. 提出異議
  2. 形式審查,不受理即駁回異議案
  3. 通知專利權人
  4. 4個月內由專利權人回應異議理由
  5. 專利局依照需要可以要求雙方再提意見
  6. 任一方可提起口頭審理程序(oral proceeding)
  7. 異議部門作出異議決定
  8. 任一方可提起訴願,否則專利權決定撤銷或保留或已經修改
  9. 異議決定後2個月內提出訴願請求
  10. 異議決定後4個月內提出訴願理由
  11. 另一方回應訴願理由
  12. 任一方可提起口頭審理
  13. 訴願決定
  14. 2個月內任一方可於歐洲擴大訴願委員會提出請願(petition),最後作出專利權是否保留的決定
  15. 歐洲擴大訴願委員會可重啟(re-open)訴願

以下這份文件有很詳細的異議流程:
http://www.jakemp.com/uploads/files/general-briefings/Opposition_Procedure_Briefing_-_16_03_15.pdf

EPC法條參考:
Article 99
Opposition

(1) Within nine months of the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent in the European Patent Bulletin, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to that patent, in accordance with the Implementing Regulations. Notice of opposition shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid.

(2) The opposition shall apply to the European patent in all the Contracting States in
which that patent has effect. 

(3) Opponents shall be parties to the opposition proceedings as well as the proprietor of the patent.

(4) Where a person provides evidence that in a Contracting State, following a final decision, he has been entered in the patent register of such State instead of the previous proprietor, such person shall, at his request, replace the previous proprietor in respect of such State. Notwithstanding Article 118, the previous proprietor and the person making the request shall not be regarded as joint proprietors unless both so request.

Article 100
Grounds for opposition

Opposition may only be filed on the grounds that:
(a) the subject-matter of the European patent is not patentable under Articles 52 to 57;
(b) the European patent does not disclose the invention in a manner sufficiently clear and complete for it to be carried out by a person skilled in the art;
(c) the subject-matter of the European patent extends beyond the content of the application as filed, or, if the patent was granted on a divisional application or on a new application filed under Article 61, beyond the content of the earlier application as filed.

Article 101
Examination of the opposition – Revocation or maintenance of the European patent

(1) If the opposition is admissible, the Opposition Division shall examine, in accordance with the Implementing Regulations, whether at least one ground for opposition under Article 100 prejudices the maintenance of the European patent. During this examination, the Opposition Division shall invite the parties, as often as necessary, to file observations on communications from another party or issued by itself.

(2) If the Opposition Division is of the opinion that at least one ground for opposition prejudices the maintenance of the European patent, it shall revoke the patent. Otherwise, it shall reject the opposition.

(3) If the Opposition Division is of the opinion that, taking into consideration the amendments made by the proprietor of the European patent during the opposition proceedings, the patent and the invention to which it relates
(a) meet the requirements of this Convention, it shall decide to maintain the patent as amended, provided that the conditions laid down in the Implementing Regulations are fulfilled;
(b) do not meet the requirements of this Convention, it shall revoke the patent.


Ron

2015年9月15日 星期二

附屬項的均等論討論 - Honeywell International, Inc. v. Hamilton Sundstrand Corp.(CAFC)

札記:

Felix v. Honda案例中有關均等論的討論:

"當專利權人刪除獨立項,並為了要獲准專利而改寫附屬項為另一新增獨立範圍,即使這個修改仍未被核准,仍建立了歷史禁反言"("The rewriting of dependent claims into independent form coupled with the cancellation of the original independent claims creates a presumption of prosecution history estoppel.")

地方法院認為,Felix在答辯過程中,在「襯墊」的限制為核准專利的重要的限制條件,故不能主張均等擴張範圍(The district court rejected Felix's argument that the amendment adding the gasket limitation was tangential to patentability)

"Felix在修正過程中,放棄了主要範圍Claim 1而將Claim 7改寫為另一新增獨立項(非如審查委員建議可核准的Claim 8),建立了歷史禁反言"("Felix’s decision in the first amendment to cancel original claim 1 and to rewrite original claim 7 in independent form as claim 14 gave rise to a presumption of surrender.4")

與同事討論中也提到:
在這案例中,” Felix在修正過程中,放棄了主要範圍Claim 1而將Claim 7改寫為另一新增獨立項,而非如審查委員建議可核准的Claim 8

這個修正結果造成禁反言,”Felix在第一次答辯過程的限縮並非是順著審查委員可核准的方面去限縮,造成歷史禁反言。

意思就是,如果造著審查委員可核准方向限縮,將保有「均等論適用」?
不過,按照CAFC認為,將附屬項改寫為獨立項的動作視為「限縮」來看,這種按照核准方向的限縮應該仍不適用均等論。

也就是:
附屬項改寫為獨立形式,表示已經拋棄了原獨立請求項範圍,這個修正產生了禁反言("The rewriting of dependent claims into independent form coupled with the cancellation of the original independent claims creates a presumption of prosecution history estoppel.")

"根據Festo判例,當專利權人回應核駁理由而做出範圍限制,這個動作將使得專利權人日後無法主張被原有Claim所涵蓋較廣的權利範圍,無法主張均等論"

"Felix在第一次答辯過程的限縮並非是順著審查委員可核准的方面去限縮,造成歷史禁反言"

"當專利權人刪除獨立項,並為了要獲准專利而改寫附屬項為另一新增獨立範圍,即使這個修改仍未被核准,仍建立了歷史禁反言"("We therefore hold that the presumption of prosecution history estoppel attaches when a patentee cancels an independent claim and rewrites a dependent claim in independent form for reasons related to patentability, even if the amendment alone does not succeed in placing the claim in condition for allowance.")

另一案例Honeywell v. Hamilton:
即便限縮的附屬項並未變動,但是改寫為獨立項的修正,如案例Honeywell,因為將原獨立項刪除(拋棄),已經建立禁反言。
("Honeywell, 370 F.3d at 1142 (“[T]he fact that the scope of the rewritten claim has remained unchanged will not preclude the application of prosecution history estoppel if, by canceling the original independent claim and rewriting the dependent claims into independent form, the scope of subject matter claimed in the independent claim has been narrowed to secure the patent.”)")

均等論推定非適用加入的限制上。
("Equivalents are presumptively not available with respect to that added limitation.")

CAFC於2004年案例"Honeywell International Inc. v. Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation"指出,將附屬項改寫為獨立項後,即便附屬項逐項來看,範圍沒變,仍不適用均等論。不同於地方法院,CAFC將此合併範圍視為限縮修正
"On appeal, the Federal Circuit held that rewriting a dependent claim into independent form is a narrowing amendment, which bars the application of the Doctrine of Equivalents for the subject matter added from the dependent claim to the original subject matter of the independent claim."


案例討論:

案件資訊:
原告(專利權人):Honeywell International, Inc.
被告(侵權被告、上訴人):Hamilton Sundstrand Corp.
系爭專利:US4,380,893US4,428,194

US4,380,893
專利涉及一種控制壓縮機洩放空氣的系統,其中透過一個電湧洩氣閥(surge bleed valve),控制洩氣的比例維持一個恆定的最小氣流量。此系統可用於交通工具上,如飛機。

系爭專利,指'893,在審查過程中,曾經表示其獨立項不准專利,但是某附屬項修改為獨立項即可獲准專利,Honeywell也據此修正。

Honeywell International, Inc. v. Hamilton Sundstrand Corp. (CAFC 2004/2008)

2004年討論:

(Honeywell I)
案件進入侵權訴訟中(地方法院),被告自然是抓住這個審查中的修正(限縮)作為均等論不適用的抗辯,但專利權人則主張這是將原附屬項改寫為獨立形式,範圍並未變動,沒有建立禁反言。在地方法院中,陪審團認為均等論適用,侵權成立,被告應賠償專利權人4千5百萬美元。

(Honeywell II)
CAFC在2004年對Honeywell v. Hamilton案例的判決表示,否決地方法院作出侵權成立(均等論適用)的決定,因為專利權人審查時刪除了原獨立請求項,因此建立了歷史禁反言。
法院發回重審,事實上是因為知道建立禁反言的基礎是有有實質修正與新的限縮特徵加入請求項範圍,但是本系爭專利審查的修正僅是併入原附屬項的限制,因此作出發回重審的決定,希望地院陪審團可以重新審視Honeywell是否有"拋棄"範圍的意圖,而適用Festo判例所建立的禁反言規則(presumption of surrender under the criteria set forth in Festo)。

(Honeywell III)
案件回到地方法院,這回,地方法院就順著CAFC於2004年的決定作出不侵權判決,也就是專利範圍不適用均等論的決定。這個決定涉及「可預見性(foreseeability)」,可看本文後段解釋。
法院認為,因為專利權人並未證明在修正當時的均等範圍可預見性,或是限縮專利範圍與相關均等範圍無關(沒有超過略為相關的關聯),使得均等論不適用。
"Because Honeywell did not show that the alleged equivalent was unforeseeable at the time of the narrowing amendment or that the narrowing amendment bore no more than a tangential relation to the alleged equivalent, this court affirms."

(Honeywell IV)
2008年討論:
CAFC於2008年對Honeywell v. Hamilton作出結論,此處涉及均等範圍的可預見性,同意地方法院對此案均等論意見的「解套」,判決指出,專利權人Honeywell無法證明修正當下已經可以預見目前意欲均等的範圍,這是需要專家證人與外部證據來證明。
"The Court held that the patentee could not show that the alleged equivalent was unforeseeable at the time of the narrowing amendment or that the narrowing amendment bore no more than a tangential relation to the alleged equivalent."

可預見性的原則是要確保專利範圍涵蓋所有可預見的情況,同時保護專利權人對抗不可預見的非實質性變化的情況。
"The Court reiterated that the goal of the principle of foreseeability is to “ensure that the claims continue to define patent scope in all foreseeable circumstances, while protecting patent owners against insubstantial variations from [the] claimed element in unforeseeable circumstances."

一旦被告侵權者(如本案Sundstrand)發展的技術在專利範圍修正之後,這個可預見性將成為重要均等論討論的抗辯理由。這件案例在Honeywell無法提出證據,以及無法反駁歷史禁反言的推論下作出均等論不適用的決定。

結論:
For the reasons stated herein, the court holds that Honeywell has failed to rebut the presumption of surrender, and is therefore barred by prosecution history estoppel from asserting the doctrine of equivalents. This court affirms the judgment of the district court.
AFFIRMED

(重要)
法官Newman對此案從2004年到2008年都持反對意見(我認為她太棒了,她常常否定自己同事的多數決定,不少是獲得很多人的認同),就此案來看,她也表示反對意見,認為CAFC在2004年的決定已經破壞原本專利附屬項的意義,附屬項範圍應該視為獨立項,而且是為了簡潔的方便,也方便審查,當獲准時,若沒有範圍的限縮,應仍適用均等論解釋專利範圍。

一些Newman的意見摘錄:
"The court today applies its new presumption of surrender to all equivalents of the claim elements and limitations that originated in dependent claims that were never amended and that were not the subject of prosecution history estoppel. The court held in its previous opinion, Honeywell Int'l, Inc. v. Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., 370 F.3d 1131 (Fed. Cir. 2004) that "the surrendered subject matter is defined by the cancellation of independent claims that do not include a particular limitation and the rewriting into independent form of dependent claims that do include that limitation."

"Under such circumstances, the surrendered subject matter is defined by the cancellation of independent claims that do not include a particular limitation and the rewriting into independent form of dependent claims that do include that limitation. Equivalents are presumptively not available with respect to that added limitation."

"Patent claims are customarily presented in independent and dependent form, a practice encouraged by the Patent and Trademark Office, for it simplifies examination."

"Equivalency is determined element by element, Warner-Jenkinson, 520 U.S. at 29, yet on the panel majority's presumption of surrender, there is no restricting action by which to measure what was surrendered. In Festo the Court was explicit that the burden is to "show[] that the amendment does not surrender the particular equivalent in question." 535 U.S. at 740. My colleagues err in now holding that all equivalents of an element presented by dependent claim are presumed surrendered by simply cancelling the independent claim."

議題涉及「可預見性(foreseeability)」,均等論適用也應參考技術上的可預見性,也就是,均等論不能無限上綱,也就是在修改專利範圍的當下,該發明所屬一般技術人員是否可以"預見"所可以均等的範圍?如果均等範圍涵蓋「將來的技術」,若在修正當下不得知道這個未來技術,並非可預見。如果相關領域的先前技術可知的均等範圍,修正時也是可預見的技術。這部分證明應該會仰賴專家以及外部證據。

Foreseeability
On remand from the Supreme Court in Festo, this court explained that the foreseeability criterion
presents an objective inquiry, asking whether the alleged equivalent would have been unforeseeable to one of ordinary skill in the art at the time of the amendment. Usually, if the alleged equivalent represents later-developed technology (e.g., transistors in relation to vacuum tubes, or Velcro (R) in relation to fasteners) or technology that was not known in the relevant art, then it would not have been foreseeable. In contrast, old technology, while not always foreseeable, would more likely have been foreseeable. Indeed, if the alleged equivalent were known in the prior art in the field of the invention, it certainly should have been foreseeable at the time of the amendment. By its very nature, objective unforeseeability depends on underlying factual issues relating to, for example, the state of the art and the understanding of a hypothetical person of ordinary skill in the art at the time of the amendment. Therefore, in determining whether an alleged equivalent would have been unforeseeable, a district court may hear expert testimony and consider other extrinsic evidence relating to the relevant factual inquiries.

my two cents:

寫於附屬項的發明理論上解釋為是一個獨立範圍,只是因為專利撰寫上的方便,或是簡潔的要求而寫為附屬項。不過,這個附屬項卻不會因為獲准專利而保有「均等論適用」,只是因為曾經"修改"為獨立項(特別是因為有先前技術阻礙的關係),但是事實上該項範圍並未實質變動,只是拋棄了原本獨立項範圍,直覺上是感到"怪怪的"。如此,"早知道"應該就於申請時寫成獨立範圍,不會產生修正造成的禁反言。

是否還有案例可以支持這些概念,或是反例?

CAFC 2008年判決:

資料參考:
http://www.sughrue.com/Honeywell-International-Inc-v-Hamilton-Sundstrand-Corporation-Nos-02-1005--1082/
http://www.finnegan.com/Publications/federalcircuit/FCCDetail.aspx?pub=c2944dc1-41f7-40f1-a4d0-821daec8aca6


Ron

2015年9月14日 星期一

美國法院案例討論 -- 影響專利寫作的案例

美國法院案例討論 -- 影響專利寫作的案例(二)


另可參考2012講義(當時並未發生Alice判例):
美國專利實務-影響寫作的判例(一)(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2012/10/blog-post_16.html

Ron

2015年9月11日 星期五

權利耗盡原則最高法院案例 - Quanta Computer, Inc. v. LG Electronics, Inc. s(2008)

Quanta Computer, Inc. v. LG Electronics, Inc., 553 U.S. 617 (2008)

「專利權權利耗盡原則(doctrine of patent exhaustion/principle of exhaustion)」是用來限制專利權不當主張與授權的範圍,要避免專利權重複授權產生的不當利益,比如一旦產品已經專利授權,販賣之後,該產品不該再被該專利權影響。原則如此,卻也可能有許多問題產生。

最新中華民國專利實務對「權利耗盡」的相關描述比如在「專利侵害鑑定要點」中(我國雖採國際耗盡原則,惟須與屬地主義調和):

專利法第五十九條 發明專利權之效力,不及於下列各款情事:
...
六、專利權人所製造或經其同意製造之專利物販賣後,使用或再販賣該物者。上述製造、販賣,不以國內為限。
...

專利權人自己製造、販賣專利物品或同意他人製造、販賣之專利物品第一次流入市場後,專利權人已經行使其專利權,就該專利物品之權利已經耗盡,不得再享有其他權能。

權利耗盡原則分為國內耗盡原則及國際耗盡原則。採國內耗盡原則者,側重專利權人之保護,專利權只會因將專利物品投入國內市場而權利耗盡,不因在國外實施而耗盡,專利權人仍享有進口權,故他人未經專利權人同意而進口專利物品於國內,仍構成侵權。採國際耗盡原則者,側重公共利益之保護,即使專利權人將專利物品投入國外市場,亦造成包括進口權之權利耗盡,無法禁止他人進口該物品。』(這是指同一專利權人)

專利法第五十七條第一項第六款及第一百二十五條第一項第六款(新法於第五十九條)規定權利耗盡原則,其中後段指「製造、販賣不以國內為限」,即採國際耗盡原則,惟有學說認為我國採國際耗盡原則與專利法之屬地主義精神衝突。

本案資訊:
專利權人:LG Electronics, Inc.
被告/上訴人:Quanta Computer, Inc.
系爭專利:
US4,939,641 ('641)、US5,379,379 ('379)、US5,077,733 ('733)

LG專利授權給Intel,授權合約表示授權Intel製造、販賣使用LG專利的微處理器與晶片組,專利技術涉及在電腦中兩個元件透過匯流排溝通時,透過協調主記憶體的讀與寫的工作,以確保主記憶體可以取得主要資料,而不被影響,此合約並沒有提到不同的權利耗盡議題(就是採用一般的耗盡原則)。

另有一合約要求Intel寫下通知它的客戶此授權並非延伸到將Intel產品與其他非Intel產品結合的物品上,如果有任何破壞此約定的情況,不會影響以上授權合約。

APPARATUS 與 METHOD的權利耗盡有差嗎?

地方法院階段:
在此約定下,本案例上訴人電腦製造商Quanta購買了Intel的微處理器與晶片組,就組合了Intel的部分以及非Intel的部分(這在電腦製造上來說頗難不是這樣!),於是,LG就對Quanta提出侵權告訴。

Quanta用權利耗盡原則作為答辯,提出簡易判決,不過地方法院判決站在LG這方,理由是專利範圍包括有方法範圍,認為此描述製作與使用專利產品的方法專利不適用權利耗盡原則

CAFC階段:
對於地方法院判決,先同意地院判決權利耗盡原則不適用描述製作或使用某產品的方法專利;另一考量是,因為LG並未授權Intel將產品販賣給Quanta去組合其他非Intel產品,也就不適用專利權利耗盡原則。

最高法院階段:
Quanta繼續上訴最高法院,顯然是針對權利耗盡原則有法律上的爭議,對此,最高法院提出幾點意見:

(a) 定義了專利權耗盡原則:專利權耗盡原則提供已專利保護的項目的初始授權販售"終止了"所有主張該項目的專利權行使。
"The patent exhaustion doctrine provides that a patented item’s initial authorized sale terminates all patent rights to that item."。

提到幾個先前案例,其中之一是「United States v. Univis Lens Co., 316 U. S. 241」,其中專利權人Univis涉及眼鏡片,與某批發商有授權合約,但此專利權不及於此批發商的販售的鏡片毛坯(lens blank),也不影響用毛坯製作成為已專利授權的眼鏡片(因為專利權已耗盡)。此案例中,法院認為雖此批發商僅實施了Univis的專利的部分,但是認為即便某品項非實現該專利的全部,但也足夠實施該專利時,但此項目的意圖也僅是實現該專利。


(b) 沒有任何法院對於權利耗盡的解釋支持LG的主張「方法專利」沒有耗盡的問題,或許方法專利不能如裝置或物品被相同的方式販售(指授權合約所載的範圍),但總是實現在一個產品中,也就隨之有權利耗盡的問題,也就是方法專利權隨著相關實現此方法的物品耗盡而耗盡。如果這是成立的,將導致專利權人企圖用方法去描述一個裝置發明,以迴避權利耗盡的問題。
"Eliminating exhaustion for method patents would seriously undermine the exhaustion doctrine, since patentees seeking to avoid exhaustion could simply draft their claims to describe a method rather than an apparatus."


在此案例中,若依照LG的主張,Intel被授權販售整個完整的電腦系統(不能納入non-Intel元件),下游購買者仍可能擔負專利侵權的責任,此將違反長久以來權利耗盡的原則

(c) 此案中Intel產品實施LG專利,適用以上列舉的前例Univis。Univis案中批發商販售的透鏡毛坯仍適用專利權耗盡原則,理由是這些透鏡毛坯合理的預期用途就是製造專利權合約所含蓋的眼鏡片。如此,當Intel在合約下販售微處理器與晶片組給Quanta時,除了應用在LG專利主張的電腦系統以外,沒有其他的用途。這與Univis案類似,透鏡毛坯對比本案例中Intel販售的元件因此專利權耗盡的適用也是一致的

(d) LG的專利權已經在Intel販售產品(晶片)給Quanta時耗盡。LG認為,合約並不讓Intel銷售產品而與non-Intel的產品結合而實現其專利,授權合約也並沒有約束Intel販售產品給其他人將Intel產品結合其他non-Intel產品的權利,合約僅是要求Intel通知LG並沒有授權其客戶實施該專利權。然而,此案爭議卻非是合約是否有被破壞的問題,而是專利權耗盡的問題

因此,本案LG專利權已在與Intel販售相關實施LG專利的產品的授權合約耗盡。
"...exhaustion turns only on Intel’s own license to sell products practicing the LGE Patents."

最高法院意見:
(備份)https://app.box.com/s/snq7t1wtfjs8rgeakqr815jp5n2izofb

Ron