2016年10月31日 星期一

墨西哥 - 用專利學地理

墨西哥(西班牙語:México),全名為墨西哥合眾國(西班牙語:Estados Unidos Mexicanos


北部同美國接壤,南側和西側濱臨太平洋,東南為貝里斯、瓜地馬拉和加勒比海,東部則為墨西哥灣,面積達近二百萬平方公里。


智慧財產局:http://www.impi.gob.mx/

發明專利程序(附上中文標註):


新型專利程序:


WIPO統計資料(資料來自各國專利局、WIPO與EPO的統整):

專利(大多數為外國申請人)、商標、設計申請案(含國內外申請人)與GDP都逐年上升。


除了沒有分類的申請案外,前幾名類別為藥物、民生、醫療、食品與化學。


發明專利與新型專利申請案占比約2:1,顯然墨西哥本國申請人偏好新型專利。



商標申請案很多,墨西哥本國人佔多數,顯見國內經濟活動很熱絡。


墨西哥2015年報告(http://www.gob.mx/cms/uploads/attachment/file/106492/IA2015.pdf):




檢索墨西哥專利,還是要去WIPO比較容易,可逐頁翻譯成英文或特定語言:
如以國碼”mx”搜尋WIPO資料庫(PATENTSCOPE),目前看到共有27萬多件,應有足夠的檢索基礎。而且,即便是西班牙文,WIPO提供每頁翻譯,頗為方便。

參考資料:

Ron

2016年10月28日 星期五

部分的複製並非可專利的發明 - In re MARCUM (CCPA 1931)

本案例涉及一個"古老"的問題,也是成為一般認知的原則:單純的複製並非是發明。也就將先前技術的特徵簡單地複製後,如此,仍不具有專利性。

這是1931的老案子,由CCPA(Court of Customs and Patent Appeal)審理(Patent Appeal No. 2606),並作出判決,認為僅由兩個輪子複製到四或六個輪子的技術並非是可專利的發明。

本案例In re MARCUM為美國專利局訴願委員會在作出核駁系爭專利請求項3-5, 9的決定後,申請人提出上訴。

系爭專利:US 1851198(Dirigible wheel mounting and steering apparatus)


系爭專利涉及在機動車上裝載於轉向裝置的傳動輪("dirigible wheels"),如摘錄Claim 3界定的車輛裝置包括有一對轉向輪軸;一個車架,包括與輪軸支撐車架的彈簧,可以讓雙軸的承載相同的力,且允許超過彈簧的轉向;輪子的轉向裝置、轉向控制裝置,以及轉向裝置與控制裝置的連接件,可以某種程度補償輪子與車架相對移動的情況。

Claim 3:
3. A vehicle comprising a pair of axles; a pair of steering wheels supporting each axle; a frame; means comprising springs for supporting said frame from said axles in a manner to divide the load equally between said axles and permitting a motion substantially greater than the spring deflection of each axle with relation to said frame; steering means for said wheels; steering control means supported on said frame; and connections between said steering means and said control means compensating to a substantial degree for the relative movement of said wheels with relation to said frame.

Claim 9:
9. A vehicle comprising a frame, tandem axles supported on dirigible wheels, each axle being secured to said frame by a pair of springs that are pivotally mounted on said frame at their front ends, means to connect the rear ends of said springs to said frame, means attached to said wheels to steer them, and mechanism to actuate said means including rearwardly extending links swinging about pivots that are substantially in the vertical plane containing the spring pivots and secured to said last named means at points substantially in vertical planes containing the axes of the dirigible mounting of the wheels.

引用前案為:Whittelsey, US1,126,326, Hallner, US1,234,014。

US1,126,326 / Whittelsey


US1,234,014 / Hallner


CCPA意見:
從技術來看,申請人主張系爭專利說明書記載的新穎特徵在:具有彈簧裝置的傳動輪軸,以及裝載於車架上的轉向齒輪與連桿,申請人認為這些特徵已經超越先前技術。

CCPA認為,這部分特徵已經被揭露於先前技術中,其中允許運動超過各輪軸與車架之間彈簧的技術已經被'326揭露,共同轉向的傳動輪的技術也揭露於'014中。但申請人認為'014並未揭露四個傳動輪與兩個輪軸的特徵,因此並未落於引證案揭露內容中。

對此,CCPA認為單純的複製並非是發明,另一說法是,僅部分的複製並非是可專利的發明("A mere duplication of parts is not invention."),說明因為前案適用於「兩輪」,因此仍適用在「四輪」或「六輪」,使得系爭專利仍不具專利性。

US1,234,014 / Hallner揭露兩個傳動輪之間的結構:


系爭專利(四輪):


CCPA同意訴願委員會意見。

系爭專利公告後僅留下兩項專利範圍,範圍與上述系爭請求項已有差異:
claim 1; A vehicle comprising a pair of axles; a pair of steering wheels supporting each axle; a frame; means for supporting said frame from said axles in a manner to divide the frame load equally between said axles; and permitting a substantial motion of each of said axles about independent fixed axes with relation to said frame; steering means for said wheels supported from said wheels; steering control means" supported on said frame comprising connections substantially to said fixed axes; and connections substantially from each fixed axis to the axle supported steering members.

2. A multi-wheel road vehicle including a frame, parallel axles, dirigible wheels on said axles, springs interconnecting said frame and said axles, each spring being secured to a the frame about the spring pivots, equalizing 'means between said springs, steering mechanism on said frame, and means connecting said frame carried steering mechanism to 5 said dirigible wheels including arms mounted to swing on axes that are substantially in vertical alignment with the axes of the spring pivots.

my two cents: (updated on Oct. 29, 2016)
單純的複製並非是發明」自然是"不容易"獲取專利,但是如果這個複製並非"單純",則是可能的,例如(常在上課提到的簡單案例),一個杯子有一個耳(單耳),相對於沒有耳的杯子,就是提供手扶的把手避免晃動、好拿、防燙等的功效;那雙耳呢?

接著有杯子發展(複製)成兩個耳(雙耳),如果功能還是提供把手避免晃動與防燙,就可能落於「單純的複製」,反之,如果雙耳提供新的功效,則可能獲得專利,新的功效比如提供嬰幼兒用雙手拿杯子的「學習杯」,這個角度如果沒有人做過(新穎)則是很有機會取得專利;那三耳?  ...除非有心的想法,同樣的道理。

CCPA判決:
https://scholar.google.com.tw/scholar_case?case=4642118232764431304&q=378

資料推薦:James Long, PTAB.us
Ron

2016年10月26日 星期三

IPR程序中專利權人應證明修正後專利範圍具有專利性 - In re Aqua Products (PTAB, CAFC no.2015-1177)

老問題,本案例涉及在IPR程序中修正專利範圍的規範,IPR程序中修正專利範圍時,專利權人要自己證明這些專利範圍已經克服先前技術而具有非顯而易見性才能被接受

參考前案:
IPR程序中是否可修正的問題 - Veritas Tech v. Veeam Software (Fed. Cir. 2016)
http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2016/09/ipr-veritas-tech-v-veeam-software-fed.html

案件資訊:
IPR案號:IPR2013-00159(異議人:ZODIAC POOL SYSTEMS, INC.;專利權人:AQUA PRODUCTS, INC.
CAFC上訴案號:No. 2015-1177 (May 25, 2016)
上訴人:IN RE:  AQUA PRODUCTS, INC.
系爭專利:US8,273,183

PTAB階段:
本案例討論專利權人Aqua在IPR程序中提出修正請願(motion to amend),要求以claims 22-24取代claims 1, 8, 20。



Claim 22如下,界定一自動運行的水池、水槽的清潔裝置。
22. (Proposed substitute for original claim 1) A self-propelled cleaning apparatus for cleaning a submerged surface of a pool or tank, comprising:
a housing having a front portion as defined by the direction of movement of the apparatus when propelled by a water jet, an opposing rear portion and adjoining side portions defining the periphery of the apparatus, and a baseplate with at least one water inlet;
rotationally-mounted supports axially mounted transverse to a longitudinal axis of said apparatus and coupled proximate the front and rear portions of the housing to enable control the directional movement of said apparatus over the submerged surface;
a water pump mounted in the interior of said housing, said water pump being configured to draw water and debris from the pool or tank through the at least one water inlet for filtering; and
a stationary directional discharge conduit in fluid communication with the water pump and having at least one discharge opening through which a pressurized stream of water forming the water jet is directionally discharged at a predetermined angle that is acute with respect the surface over which the apparatus is moving,
wherein said predetermined angle is inclined upwardly with respect to the surface beneath the apparatus to produce a resultant force vector that is directed to a position that is proximate to and rearwardly displaced from a line passing through the transverse axial mountings of the front rotationally-mounted supports.

評斷修正請願時,引述37 C.F.R. § 42.121(a)(2),提出IPR程序中不得修正的情況:(1)擴大專利範圍;(2)產生新事物;(3)修正無法克服專利性問題

其實整個IPR討論的仍是103專利性問題,也就是系爭專利軸向與旋轉支撐結構以及產生合力的技術特徵的專利性,本次修正請願格式上符合規定,PTAB也不同意請願人提出的異議,卻因為專利權人沒有證明修正後專利範圍(應包括全部修正的部分)已經克服先前技術的阻礙而拒絕修正請願。
"We deny the Replacement Corrected Motion to Amend Claims because, for the reasons below, we are not persuaded that Patent Owner has demonstrated the patentability of the proposed substitute claims over a ground of unpatentability involving Henkin and Myers."

CAFC階段:
就以上修正議題,專利權人Aqua提出上訴。

CAFC決定中先回顧探討系爭專利修正後專利範圍是否可以超越先前技術阻礙的事實,並認同PTAB因為專利權人無法證明系爭專利修正後專利範圍超越已知前案否決修正請願的決定。


CAFC認為專利權人有責任證明系爭專利修正後專利範圍具有專利性,而專利權人Aqua並沒有說服PTAB修正後專利範圍可以克服先前技術的顯而易見性核駁意見。


CAFC結論:


其實,系爭專利修正後專利範圍是否可以與已知前案區隔並沒有真正的答案,因為在程序上,專利權人並未針對全部修正的部分提出與已知前案比對具有非顯而易知的技術特徵的充分答辯,因此,PTAB可以否決這個修正請願,也導致IPR決定全盤皆墨的結果。

專利權人/上訴人顯然不服,提出聯席上訴,本案尚待CAFC聯席法庭的最終決定:Federal Circuit is In re Aqua Products (Appeal No. 15-1177),留下兩個待解問題:

(a)    When  the  patent  owner  moves  to  amend  its claims under 35 U.S.C. § 316(d), may the PTO require  the  patent  owner  to  bear  the  burden  of  persuasion,  or  a  burden  of  production,  regarding  patentability of the amended claims as a condition of  allowing  them?    Which  burdens  are  permitted  under 35 U.S.C. § 316(e)? 

(b)    When  the  petitioner  does  not  challenge  the patentability of a proposed amended claim, or the Board thinks the challenge is inadequate, may the Board sua sponte raise patentability challenges to such a claim?  If so, where would the burden of persuasion, or a burden of production, lie?

[相關法條]
AIA-IPR程序中修正規定在美國專利法35U.S.C.316(d):
35U.S.C.316(d) 
(d) AMENDMENT OF THE PATENT.--
(1) IN GENERAL.--During an inter partes review instituted under this chapter, the patent owner may file 1 motion to amend the patent in 1 or more of the following ways:
(A) Cancel any challenged patent claim.
(B) For each challenged claim, propose a reasonable number of substitute claims.
(2) ADDITIONAL MOTIONS.--Additional motions to amend may be permitted upon the joint request of the petitioner and the patent owner to materially advance the settlement of a proceeding under section 317, or as permitted by regulations prescribed by the Director.
(3) SCOPE OF CLAIMS.--An amendment under this subsection may not enlarge the scope of the claims of the patent or introduce new matter.


此段規定,進入IPR程序中,專利權人可以發出一次修正請求(1 motion),可以包括:
(A)刪除被IPR異議的專利範圍,以及
(B)對被IPR異議的專利範圍提出合理替代的請求項範圍(修正僅針對被異議範圍)。

如果是基於促進和解(35USC317),或是由審理官同意下,額外的修正請求可以被准許。
修正後的範疇 不能超過原領證請求項範圍,也不能產生新事物。

my two cents:
雖是一般常識的樣子,但在IPR程序中仍是應該注意,IPR提出motion to amend規定不同,可以修正,但應「限縮專利範圍」,且應達到「非顯而易見」的標準,而且這是專利權人的責任,否則不同意修正,這是連程序都不通的情況。

專利權人修正時應該提出充分證明專利範圍是可以克服依據已知前案的核駁意見,而是否已經充分,PTAB沒有責任通知,也不容易有再次機會讓專利權人提出更多意見,因此,當下要充分到PTAB可以接受。否則,會因為不同意修正而到最後Final decision了。

PTAB決定(備份):
https://app.box.com/s/3ssbd3hqh84ifoc9xz6od1t661djhu2n

CAFC判決文:
http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/15-1177.Opinion.5-23-2016.1.PDF
(備份:https://app.box.com/s/b1klklbzyxfj9tj4r94pcf01zxtcheac

參考資料:
http://patentlyo.com/patent/2016/10/amending-claims-grant.html

Ron

2016年10月24日 星期一

專利被撤銷不能主張過去的權利 - 歐洲侵權賠償實務與最高法院的意見

長久以來根據大英國協英格蘭與威爾斯(England & Wales)法律,即便專利在某個時刻被撤銷,但被告不能主張專利權人因為專利權被撤銷而不能主張損害賠償,也就是不影響過去侵權成立的判決以及取得的損害賠償(可追溯)。

但根據英國最高法院於2013年的新的判決Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited v Zodiac Seats UK Limited [2013]以上規則已經被推翻,當專利權已經被撤銷(且確認不能回復),為了公正性以及公眾利益,侵權被告可以主張專利權人因為專利權已經被撤銷而不能要求損害賠償,也就是,"過去的"專利權人已經不能追溯過去專利權仍有效的損害賠償。

案例資訊:
專利權人/原告:Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd ("Virgin",維珍航空)
侵權被告:Zodiac Seats UK Ltd ("Zodiac")
系爭專利:EP (UK) 1 495 908 ("the 908 patent"), EP (UK) 2 272 711 ("the 711 patent") and EP (UK) 2 289 734 ("the 734 patent") (updated on Oct. 27, 2016)

系爭專利涉及「飛機的座椅系統」,以及可以變更為躺椅的飛機座椅。

(updated on Oct. 27, 2016)
EP (UK) 1 495 908

Claim 1: A passenger seating system for an aircraft, comprising a plurality of seat units (40), each seat unit defining  a  notional  longitudinal  seat  axis  (C- C)  and comprising a supporting structure (42) adapted for attaching the seat unit to a floor of an aircraft (12)and means forming or being configurable for forming a seat comprising a seat- pan (71) and a back- rest(72), said seat units being arranged to form a column(29) defining a notional longitudinal column axis (B-B),  in  which  column  said  seat- units  are  arranged side- by- side  in  longitudinally  offset  relation  at  an acute angle to the notional column axis (B- B), there-by defining a space to the rear of each seat, each seat unit further comprising means forming or being configurable  for  forming  a  substantially  flat  bed(47,48,67,74,76),  so  that  when  the  seat  unit  is formed into a bed a major proportion of the bed is disposed forwardly of the position that was occupied by the seat, and characterised in that the flat- bed extends rearwardly into said space (36) behind the seat.

EP (UK) 2 272 711

Claim 1: A seat unit (40) for a seating system for an aircraft, the seat unit defining only one notional longitudinal seat axis (C-C) and comprising a supporting structure (42) adapted for attaching the seat unit to a floor of a vehicle and means forming or being configurable for forming a seat comprising a seat-pan (71) and a back-rest (72), the seat unit being adapted to be arranged side-by-side with other like units to form a column (29) defining a notional longitudinal column axis (B-B), in which column said seat-units are in longitudinally offset relation at an acute angle to the notional longitudinal column axis (B-B), thereby defining a space (36) to the rear of the seat when the unit is configured as a seat, the seat unit further comprising means forming or being configurable for forming a substantially flat bed, a major proportion of which bed is disposed forwardly of the position of the seat, said seat forming means and said bed forming means comprising one or more movable passenger-bearing elements (71, 72) which are selectively configurable to form, in a seat mode, at least part of the seat for a passenger or, in a bed mode, at least part of said flat bed, and wherein the flat bed in the bed mode is disposed at substantially the same level as the seat-pan (71) in the seat mode, characterised in that the bed extends rearwardly into said space (36) and a generally triangular first passenger-supporting element (47) is disposed in said rearward space substantially coplanarly with said one or more movable elements (71, 72) when said movable elements are configured in the bed mode and is adapted to form part of said flat bed.

緣起:
歐洲上訴法院於2009年作出專利有效且侵權成立的判決,2010年更執行禁制令與損害賠償。

被告於2008年就提出異議程序,提出"中央型/統一型"專利異議程序(centralised opposition procedure),也就是專利一旦被撤銷,或是修改,全部EPC成員國的國家專利都一致被撤銷或修改,反之,如果僅是提出國家區域的異議,其結果僅適用該國專利。異議程序到訴願委員會在歐洲上訴法院判決之後作出決定,專利權已經被判無效。

根據EPC Article 68規定,專利一旦撤銷,自始不存在。

案件進入歐洲最高法院,原告主張(依照前例)被告不能挑戰先前(專利有效的侵權訴訟)主張賠償與侵權不成立的決定。

但是,歐洲最高法院否決原告的主張,理由是這不是一個新啟的議題,不能禁止被告提出根據已經改變的事實的主張。

"The Supreme Court found that there was no cause of action estoppel because Zodiac was not re-opening the question of validity of the patent (as decided by the Court of Appeal), but instead was relying on the "mere fact of amendment, not on the reasons why it happened.""

"On the present facts, Zodiac was raising the new fact of revocation (irrespective of the ground for that revocation) and not re-opening the issue of validity."

也就是,當整個議題是個新啟的議題(非一連貫),則可能對過往的意見為禁反言(這至少保護一個完整的系統與各級法院的獨立性,而不會隨意被其他後進案例影響)。

其實平行案件之間是否互相影響一直是的問題,如本次議題討論專利被撤銷,是否會影響其他訴訟所作出的決定?應該不會,但是本案例至少表示是相同原告與被告一連貫的程序走下來,最高法院認為這非新啟的程序,而沒有禁反言適用(可以否決過去侵權成立的賠償)。

涉及法條:
EPC Art. 68 Effect of revocation or limitation of the European patent
The European patent application and the resulting European patent shall be deemed not to have had, from the outset, the effects specified in Articles 64 and 67, to the extent that the patent has been revoked or limited in opposition, limitation or revocation proceedings.

英國最高法院判決文:
https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2010-0013-judgment.pdf
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2013/1713.html

資料參考:
https://cms.law/en/INT/Publication/Supreme-Court-s-landmark-decision-removes-right-to-damages-where-patent-later-revoked
http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=fd57280c-ed4f-4ab4-a325-2aefabe13224

my two cents:
[歐洲]
這個意見真是見仁見智,因為專利取得是國家賦予的權利,專利權人會因此使用這個權利(雖然這是排他權)而開始研發與付出投資,這時的侵權自然回影響專利權人的利益,如果法律至少可以保障這段時間的權利,還算說得過去(對政府的信賴);但這時的投入卻可能有個變數 - 專利權之後被撤銷,一旦專利權被撤銷,這些研發與投資就可能因為「被仿冒」而不保,錢也要不回來。反之,專利權一旦確認無效(自始不存在),也就沒有所謂的「被仿冒」,也不能因此主張"過去的"侵權賠償,這也頗有道理。

這雖是個難解的題目,但是專利被撤銷真的是個可怕的變數,因此,常勸發明人對於重要的發明不要僅以提出一件專利申請案或僅取得一件專利,更可考慮多樣佈局(發明、新型、設計),降低以上變數產生的風險。

[美國]
另一個議題是,如果專利是「過期」的,就是過去有效,專利也沒被撤銷,如何主張過去的權利?

這裡提到的是,專利權人可以在專利過期日後六年內提出侵權賠償訴訟,也對照了美國專利法第286條規定僅能追溯提訴前六年內的侵權行為賠償,但仍可主張之後禁令。舉例來說,若專利已經過期四年,依照規定僅能在過期日後六年內追溯賠償,這時僅能追溯過期前兩年專利有效期限內的侵權行為賠償。

What if the patent is expired?  (quotation from USPTO)

Even if a patent is expired, the patent owner has six years from the expiration date to file a lawsuit in order to collect monetary damages for past infringement before the expiration date. More information about patent term, and an explanation of how to estimate whether a patent has expired, is available on the Patent Term Calculator webpage. Also, note that the claims of a patent can be invalidated by federal courts and/or the USPTO prior to their expiration, but not afterwards.
對照35 U.S.C. 286,這裡提到的是請求侵權陪長的時間限制,就僅能針對提出訴訟前的六年內侵權行為主張侵權賠償。

35 U.S.C. 286    TIME LIMITATION ON DAMAGES.

Except as otherwise provided by law, no recovery shall be had for any infringement committed more than six years prior to the filing of the complaint or counterclaim for infringement in the action.

In the case of claims against the United States Government for use of a patented invention, the period before bringing suit, up to six years, between the date of receipt of a written claim for compensation by the department or agency of the Government having authority to settle such claim, and the date of mailing by the Government of a notice to the claimant that his claim has been denied shall not be counted as a part of the period referred to in the preceding paragraph.

專利期限計算器:
https://www.uspto.gov/patent/laws-and-regulations/patent-term-calculator

資料參考:
-可能因為"懈怠"而無法主張專利權 - SCA Hygiene v. First Quality Baby (en banc Fed. Cir. 2015)http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2016/07/sca-hygiene-v-first-quality-baby-en.html
-專利權追溯期筆記(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2016/03/blog-post_24.html

過期專利如何主張權利,資料參考(本部落格將另章報導):
http://www.finnegan.com/zh-CHT/resources/articles/articlesdetail.aspx?news=3113e326-df7d-4c8f-8292-d9d6d4cbc9c2

Ron

2016年10月21日 星期五

資料檔案為不可專利的抽象概念 - CBM2014-00006案討論

(updated on Oct. 21, 2016)明確地說:請求項發明具有新穎性的特徵在某個資料檔案(某個資訊表示)時,若為普通常見的技術元件,沒有具體而有形的技術特徵,沒有改善具體的技術問題,為不可專利的抽象概念。

CBM2014-00006案件資訊:
提出時間:10/09/2013
異議人:Google Inc.
專利權人:Unwired Planet, LLC
系爭專利:US7203752

前情提要:
本案緣起專利權人Unwired對Google提出的侵權訴訟(至少涉及三件專利,Google對這些專利同時提起IPR與CBM),本次討論的系爭專利涉及存取行動裝置位置的技術,被告Google同時提出IPR與CBM,兩者議題不同。(編按:CBM針對商業方法,適用可專利性法條:101, 102, 103, 112IPR適用可專利性法條:102, 103

IPR:


CBM:


CBM的啟始決定:



系爭專利關於管理無線通訊裝置(手機)位置資訊的技術,就是一種客戶取得另一用戶手機位置資訊的權限管理方案,其中系統提供無線通訊裝置使用者建立一設定檔案(profile),其中記載存取裝置位置的限制,系統可以藉此管理別人存取用戶裝置位置的權限。

系爭專利Claim 25界定一種控制存取無線通訊裝置位置資訊的方法,流程描述系統的動作,包括接收某客戶取得某無線裝置位置資訊的請求;取得用戶檔案(subscriber profile),其中記載授權用戶與每個用戶的許可限制(permission),如存取位置資訊的空間與時間的限制;查詢此用戶檔案,以判斷客戶被授權;查詢用戶檔案判斷授權的限制(時間、空間);之後判斷客戶是否被授權存取某用戶的地理資訊。

縱貫整個請求項25的技術元件如"subscriber profile",以及其中記載的資訊,也就是限定存取裝置資訊的限制,包括空間限制與時間限制。

25. A method of controlling access to location information for wireless communications devices operating in a wireless communications network, the method comprising:
receiving a request from a client application for location information for a wireless device;
retrieving a subscriber profile from a memory, the subscriber profile including a list of authorized client applications and a permission set for each of the authorized client applications, wherein the permission set includes at least one of a spatial limitation on access to the location information or a temporal limitation on access to the location information;
querying the subscribe profile to determine whether the client application is an authorized client application;
querying the subscriber profile to determine whether the permission set for the client application authorizes the client application to receive the location information for the wireless device;
determining that the client application is either not an authorized client application or not authorized to receive the location information; and
denying the client application access to the location information.
26. The method of claim 25 further comprising:
notifying the wireless device that the client application is not authorized to receive the location information; and
updating the subscriber profile to authorize the client application to receive the location information during subsequent requests.
系統圖:


用戶檔案(subscriber profile),其中記載了permission sets。


CBM決定(本案合併審理CBM2014-00004, CBM2014-00005, CBM2014-000006, IPR2014-00027, IPR2014-00036, IPR2013-00037):

進行專利範圍解釋時,主要針對請求項中元件"spatial limitation"為存取裝置的地理資訊的限制,以及"subscriber profile"記載內容作為存取裝置隱私(如地理位置)的依據。

103:
請求項記載發明面臨先前技術的顯而易見性核駁意見(103),PTAB委員認為對於用戶檔案、空間限制等存取隱私資料的限制條件,相對於引用的前案,已經被揭露,對於整體存取裝置地理資訊的技術相對引證案的組合(Havinis ’931 and Leonhardt, Landgren and Leonhardt)也為顯而易知的技術。

112:
系爭專利請求項26中記載的"通知裝置客戶並未授權"與"更新用戶檔案的限制"的技術(答辯過程加入的),包括步驟順序,是否為原說明書記載所支持,為不明確?這裡有很精彩的論戰。

在討論中,對於說明書是否明確揭示請求項26的技術,PTAB委員持開放態度,認為符合112撰寫規定,這也符合我們在美國專利面對專利範圍的修正與解釋有一定的寬容度的實務經驗

the disclosure as originally filed does not . . . have to provide in haec verba support for the claimed subject matter at issue,” nor must it describe “every conceivable and possible future embodiment of [the] invention.

對於"通知裝置客戶並未授權"的描述,PTAB委員認定系爭專利說明書內容支持"通知"解釋的廣度(“provides ample support for the breadth”),並沒有明確地限制特定範圍;因此請求項26符合112撰寫規定,為明確的專利範圍。

對於"更新用戶檔案的限制"的技術,PTAB委員先認為並沒有必要與前述步驟有「順序」的限制,也因為上述解釋的寬容,這技術也是可以被說明書所支持。

(編按,經查系爭專利說明書內容,有多處提到notify的技術,但非通知客戶不被授權的訊息;僅有一處提到更新的技術,也非更新用戶檔案中的限制條件,因此異議人有一定的論述基礎,只是就解釋來看,實務上是可以更為寬容的)

101:
對於可專利性,實務上就是會搬出最新的最高法院判例,如Alice, Mayo,以及USPTO同意的審查標準,在判斷發明是否為抽象時,雖應考量整體技術,但是由於雙方最後爭點落於前述的「用戶檔案(subscriber profile)」與其中限制條件,因此可針對這些萃取出來的技術。

第一步,先討論系爭專利範圍是否涉及不可專利的抽象概念?如果被認為是抽象的,顯然本案的檔案資訊為抽象的非技術元件,就看第二步。
we determine whether the claims at issue are directed to one of those patent-ineligible concepts.

第二步,考量請求項中元件單獨或是組合可以轉換不可專利的概念為可專利的應用。
"we consider the elements of each claim both individually and as an ordered combination to determine whether the additional elements transform the nature of the claim into a patent-eligible application."

特別強調的是,第二步考量不脫於在討論「進步性的特徵」,就是請求項中元件或其組合是否在比對先前技術後仍具有進步的特徵,如果有,符合實質超越(significantly more)的要件,就具有轉換不可專利的概念為可專利應用的條件。
"an element or combination of elements that is sufficient to ensure that the patent in practice amounts to significantly more than a patent upon the ineligible concept itself."

對於系爭專利中的「用戶檔案」,PTAB同意這是發明的主要元件,也導致整個發明為一個「抽象概念」,因為並沒有特別具體而有形的形式,也沒有具體的應用。
"the challenged claims’ combination of steps recites an abstraction because it has “no particular concrete or tangible form” and is “devoid of a concrete or tangible application.”"

PTAB的意見是,系爭專利請求項25等的發明,即便是人去建構的無線通訊系統,但是是「管理人類的活動」,仍可歸類為抽象概念,落於BilskiAlice等判例的範疇,參考案例Ultramercial,認為本系爭專利為一種「資料識別與儲存的基本概念("basic concept of data recognition and storage")」。

在以上可專利性第二步檢測中,需要考量其是否有進步的特徵,所述用戶資料是否有意義且具體?結果是認為「用戶資料」為一般技術元件,沒有改良任何技術問題,因此並沒有將整體抽象概念的發明轉換為可專利的標的。

對此,結論是:系爭專利中被質疑的請求項claims 25-29不具可專利性。
"We are persuaded that Petitioner has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that claims 25–29 of the ’752 patent are unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. § 101."

參考案例:
電腦軟體發明中僅靠新穎特徵仍不足以克服不符101的理由 - Ultramercial v. Hulu (Fed. Cir. 2014)案例討論(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/12/101-ultramercial-v-hulu-fed-cir-2014.html
"CAFC法官同時考量系爭專利專利範圍中是否有任何特徵可以轉換抽象概念到可專利標的,結果認為系爭專利專利範圍也沒有綁定任何新穎而有意義的硬體特徵,認為無法轉換為可專利標的。"

my two cents:
形成一個專利權,即便歷經核駁、答辯與獲准,都有可能被後來的異議程序撤銷掉,而且爭點在「明確性」與「可專利性」,都是令人十分挫折,我們只好從先賢先烈中找到可學習的功課。例如,說明書愈明確愈好,但也需要支持將來可能的改變,後續解釋也有可寬容的空間。

關於101,本部落格很多內容,不再贅述。

CBM判決檔:https://app.box.com/s/tooixottdj82pf82tebakg1hiwkpua3s

補充:
系爭專利US7203752另有IPR2014-00037,提出時間:10/08/2013(CBM前一天)

本案由Google Inc.對Unwired Planet, LLC專利'752的Claims 25-29提起IPR異議程序,啟始決定僅接受繼續審理Claim 25(35USC102)。

IPR判決檔:https://app.box.com/s/7ozsfy2qxzb8097orracsix0r8bqvdki

Ron

2016年10月20日 星期四

蘋果專利有效且侵權勝訴 - 有關證據能力的討論 - Apple v. Samsung (Fed. Cir. 2016)

這希望不只是報導一件訴訟案件而已 - Apple v. Samsung (Fed. Cir. 2016),而是可以學到專利這件事,以及訴訟該學的東西。

本案例為Apple v. Samsung世紀大戰的一個段落,涉及的專利權為Apple定義智慧型手機的幾個主要技術:滑動解鎖、自動拼字與電話號碼識別,Apple在CAFC階段幾乎全盤皆墨,但在CAFC聯席法官(en banc)的決定又恢復在地方法院對Apple相對有利的裁決。

過程中,曾經,Apple沒有預期地順利告贏Samsung,連自身的專利也被判無效,然而就牽制對手而言,擁有專利權以及發起訴訟仍是很有效的策略,即便相關被告侵權物都是已經沒有販售的產品。最後Apple仍扳回一成。

不論最後誰輸誰贏,在學習的角度上,本篇可以下個副標題 - 額外的證據是否能用來解釋專利範圍?或說,上訴法院是否可以就非上訴議題提出事實調查與作出決定?

本案涉及的系爭專利不是設計專利,是滑動解鎖...等專利,在地方法院階段,除了判三星侵權成立外,也判蘋果專利侵權。

先前地方法院報導:
Apple求償22億,但只獲得1.2億(地方法院階段)(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/05/apple2212.html

第二波CAFC判決:蘋果專利無效且對三星侵權成立(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2016/03/cafc.html

案件資訊:
原告/交叉上訴人:APPLE INC.
被告/上訴人:SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO.
系爭專利:
Apple:
US8,046,721('721滑動解鎖)
US8,074,172('172自動完成)
US5,946,647('647快速連結)
US6,847,959('959通用型介面)
US7,761,414('414資料同步)
Samsung:
US5,579,239('239遠端影片傳輸系統)
US6,226,449('449錄製與重現數位影像與語音的裝置)

前次地方法院的裁決同意三星提出的簡易判決:三星產品對'172侵權成立且專利有效、對'647侵權成立、對'721侵權成立且專利有效、對'959侵權不成立、對'414侵權不成立;蘋果產品對'239侵權不成立,但對'449侵權成立

三星提出上訴,主要是針對地院在系爭專利'172、'647與'721的決定。

CAFC階段:
CAFC面對地院裁決作出的決定是:否決地方法院陪審團裁定'647侵權成立的決定,並判定'721與'172顯而易見。完全不利於Apple。

En Banc階段:
Apple於是請願(petition)主張CAFC對於'647侵權不成立的決定是依據額外證據("extra-record evidence"),Apple認為這些額外證據都非在記錄中,且都是基於獨立研發的證據(認為這些都非公開資訊),也就是,Apple認為CAFC法官都是基於這些額外證據建立解釋專利範圍的心證。
none of which was of record and that the panel appears to have located only through independent research.
The panel looked to [this extra-record evidence] to create its own plain meaning of ‘server’ as requiring a ‘stand alone’ program.

CAFC聯席法官對於Apple的請願,認為法院決定應限於雙方上訴的議題,而議題決定的基礎則尊重事實調查結果,沒有必要去徵求額外意見或論點來判斷是否上訴委員會可以額外(外部)證據來解釋專利範圍
"There was no need to solicit additional briefing or argument on the question of whether an appellate panel can look to extra-record extrinsic evidence to construe a patent claim term."

其中提到最高法院在案例"Teva Pharms., Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 831, 841 (2015))"的意見,解釋專利範圍的事實包括背景技術或是元件用語在相關時間的技術領域的意思。
"The Supreme Court made clear that the factual components [of claim construction] include ‘the background science or the meaning of a term in the relevant art during the relevant time period.’"

可參考部落格其他報導:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2015/06/means-lighting-ballast-v-philips.html
"最高法院在案例"Teva v. Sandoz"中裁決對於針對地方法院判決有關"外部證據"解釋專利範圍的上訴程序中,理應“給予尊重("should be given deference on appeal")”,就是應該要採用。不過其他非關此類的專利範圍解釋仍要重新審理。"

也就是說,事實調查為地方法院的職權,上訴法院如CAFC沒有必要徵求額外的論點來評論上訴法院不能根據額外證據("extra-record extrinsic evidence")作出事實判斷。因此,CAFC聯席法官無需判斷是否上訴法院可以對非上訴議題作出意見或是重審地院的事實調查(fact findings)

由於CAFC否決幾乎所有地方法院有關以上三件系爭專利所涉及侵權、前案結合動機、前案教示、商業成功、產業讚賞、仿冒、解決長期以來的問題等的決定,甚至包括三星並未上訴的議題。

對此,CAFC聯席法官決定,恢復地方法院基於實際證據的決定,並認為否決Samsung提出的意見為依法判決(JMOL)。

再來就是一系列對於上訴之系爭專利的分析與討論,本次討論不涉獵技術討論部分。

'721案有興趣的議題學習,包括:

- The Objective Indicia of Non-Obviousness(非顯而易知的客觀指標)
為了避免後見之明,以及故意解讀先前技術的教示產生的不客觀意見,證明發明為非顯而易知的幾個輔助性因素(secondary considerations)或是客觀指標顯得重要,以下幾點就是Apple面對顯而易知性先前技術挑戰時的答辯方向,顯見他們頗有信心將這些因素連結到其產品的成功上。

然而,這些輔助性因素是如何連結到蘋果產品(或其成功)上,需要實質證據來支持這些事實。特別的是,在此案例中,聯席法官要排除所述額外證據「extra-record evidence」。

- Industry Praise(產業讚賞)
產業讚賞不容易證明,也不會有對手公開讚賞自己的競爭者,但是地方法院從對手(Samsung)的文件看出蘋果的「滑動解鎖(for iphone)」具有「產業讚賞」,因為證據顯示Samsung內部文件指出Samsung應修改手機而加入滑動解鎖的功能。

另有讚賞來自Steve Jobs第一次公開iPhone滑動解鎖時,當他的手在手機上一滑動,全場讚聲不斷。

事實上,地院所參考產業讚賞的證據都是針對iPhone這個產品,並不見得是針對'721滑動解鎖的發明,不過,Samsung上訴時並未爭論這些證據。

- Copying(仿冒)
是否Samsung手機仿冒iPhone?蘋果提出的證據如上述產業讚賞的證據,由於Samsung內部文件顯示不同部門在不同時間都表示iPhone的滑動解鎖比Samsung自己設計的方式都好,也都提到改良Samsung手機的方向就是修改其解鎖的機制要像iPhone一樣。這樣,就成為仿冒的實質證據。

- Commercial Success(商業成功)
(可參考部落格文章,商業上成功的答辯要件:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2016/07/in-re-huai-hung-kao-fed-cir-2011.html
客觀證據都顯示iPhone在商業上確實成功,但是是否成功的因素可以連結到「滑動解鎖」等系爭專利所記載的發明,「商業成功」因素需要這個連結。

根據Apple提出的證據,「滑動解鎖」為iPhone行銷時重要的特徵,經過消費者調查,顯示如果iPhone沒有滑動解鎖的功能,會降低購買iPhone的意願,這樣就使得地方法院陪審團裁定如'721的發明驅動了iPhone的商業成功,兩者有連結。

- Long-Felt Need(長期以來的需求/long-felt but unresolved need)
(可參考:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2013/11/long-felt-need.html
客觀證據要顯示蘋果專利解決了長久以來的需求,地院陪審團接受蘋果表示「滑動解鎖」發明的出現解決了手機放在口袋裡會被觸按而誤打電話的問題。並且,Samsung內部文件顯示Samsung曾經嘗試解決這個問題,但是卻是失敗。

雖然從先前技術可以看到一些滑動解鎖的技術,但是顯然法官認為蘋果的滑動解鎖雖僅是「小小的改良」,卻解決了長久以來的問題,使得判斷'721為非顯而易見。

編按:其實這個不容易,因為iPhone前應該不容易證明「長久以來的需求」,頂多是幾年吧!

對於「顯而易見性」的結論:
討論到顯而易見性的判斷,使用先前技術Plaisant&Neonode,採用KSR判例提供的審查原則,先前技術也是應用在觸控顯示器,但是相關解鎖方式雖也有滑動,或不夠「直覺」,綜合上述意見,CAFC聯席法官認為'721專利Claim 8非顯而易見。

7. A portable electronic device, comprising:
a touch-sensitive display;
memory;
one or more processors; and
one or more modules stored in the memory and configured for execution by the one or more processors, the one or more modules including instructions:
to detect a contact with the touch-sensitive display at a first predefined location corresponding to an unlock image;
to continuously move the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display in accordance with movement of the detected contact while continuous contact with the touch-sensitive display is maintained, wherein the unlock image is a graphical, interactive user-interface object with which a user interacts in order to unlock the device; and
to unlock the hand-held electronic device if the unlock image is moved from the first predefined location on the touch screen to a predefined unlock region on the touch-sensitive display.
8. The device of claim 7, further comprising instructions to display visual cues to communicate a direction of movement of the unlock image required to unlock the device.

iPhone先前技術討論可見:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2016/03/cafc.html

- Willfulness(蓄意)
這是Apple上訴議題之一,地院認為Samsung沒有蓄意侵權,CAFC聯席法院意見為發回重審,要求地院根據最高法院最近Halo案例作出的原則重審蓄意侵權議題。

HALO ELECTRONICS, INC. v. PULSE ELECTRONICS, INC., ET AL.可參考:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2016/06/halo-v-pulse-june-13-2016-supreme-court.html


結論:
事實上,在CAFC聯席法官的意見是表示對地方法院對於實質證據的尊重,且不能用額外證據來重新評斷各種事實,很多證據問題應該都在地方法院階段解決。

CAFC聯席法官意見:地方法院對'647、'721與'172案的意見,包括同意CAFC意見與地院對於'959、'414、'239、'449等案的意見。對於蓄意侵權議題發回重審。

從以上案例可知,Apple在地院勝訴,雖進入CAFC敗得一塌糊塗,卻在請願聯席法官意見時反轉所有意見,幾乎回到地方法院的所有對Apple有利的意見。本案告訴我們,CAFC有時也是有點"濫權",使用"extra-record evidence"作出不同於前級法院的意見。

本案例告訴我們:上訴法院不能依據非上訴議題與證據以外的額外證據解釋專利範圍中一般用語的意義,以及瞭解被告侵權物的運作;上訴法院不能否決非上訴議題的事實調查結果(尊重地院的職權);當上訴提出有實質證據時,上訴法院應重審地院的事實調查結果。

判決文:
http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/15-1171.Opinion.9-30-2016.1.PDF
(備份:https://app.box.com/s/dkqv4m9tlxyt7jlwy4n67pohhufog8hy

資料參考:
http://patentlyo.com/patent/2016/10/consider-construction-evidence.html

Ron

2016年10月18日 星期二

系統發明不是只有一個元件就不明確 - Ex parte Bell

Ex parte Bell案件資訊:
訴願號:Appeal 2014-009335
專利申請號:No. 13/050,752

系爭案揭露的壓力調節器,如一種彈簧加載液壓調節器,就是以下"24",外殼為"32",宣稱可以改善其中不動作區(deadband),可以讓輸出更順暢,壓力調節器有活塞與密封環,活塞的直徑為至少密封環整體直徑的一半,可以降低不動作區並增加敏感度。



上圖中,感測活塞"sensing piston"為"62",在圖4左方中央,密封環"supply seal ring"為"84",在活塞"62"右端,彈簧"64"在左側。

系爭案在USPTO審查時遭遇兩次核駁意見,在Final Office Action時的請求項1如下,除了102, 103問題外,FOA表示這個範圍不明確(112(b)),理由之一是其中不動作區最大值的描述不曉得是前言的一部分,還是發明本身,還有,當系統項僅有一個元件"regulator"時,而不是一個系統時,且其附屬項的內容反映出系統在"regulator"以外的元件,顯然系統不只是"regulator"而已,使得整個請求項不明確


rejections under 112(2):


系爭專利遭遇Final Rejection後,申請人提出訴願,經來往幾次,訴願委員會於9/29/2016作出訴願決定。

請求項1是否明確,關乎其附屬請求項22界定了哪些元件,
Claim 22:


有關112議題的訴願意見整理:
  1. 首先不同意USPTO審查時認為在請求項中限定不動作區(deadband)範圍的描述為不明確,而認為申請人正確地描述了系爭案發明的環境。
  2. 不同意USPTO審查時認為系統僅包括一個調節器"regulator"為不明確,訴願決定引述韋伯辭典定義的"system"為多個部件共同工作,而系爭案請求項1也清楚描述了"regulator"的幾個部件,因此不認為請求項1不明確。
  3. 關於請求項1的附屬請求項22,訴願決定認為其中界定的"a plurality of supply seal rings",包含了如請求項1描述的"at least one supply seal ring",但對相關技術人員可以明瞭,請求項22解釋為"at least two supply seal rings"("多個"表示"至少兩個"),沒有不明確的問題。

因此訴願決定表示,發明不是只有一個元件就不明確。只是本案仍有其他引證案的阻礙,就不在這裡討論。

my two cents:
一般來說,請求項會採用「開放式」連接詞,讓專利範圍不限於描述內容,因此使得「附屬請求項」有其發揮的空間,如此案,雖以「系統」為發明標的,但是僅有一個「調節器」,但是解釋範圍也不會讓系統僅限於只有這個元件,使用「系統」確可以讓附屬項有增加「調節器」以外的元件的空間。至少這樣寫並非不明確。

系爭案審查與訴願包裹檔案(來源:PAIR):
https://app.box.com/s/aed8jndzf81igspac0gcmgibrkt9wdby

資料參考:
http://allthingspros.blogspot.tw/2016/10/ptab-reverse-indefinite-preamble-system.html

Ron

歐洲專利Rule 43(7)專利範圍標註編號的筆記

筆記

EPC Rule 43 Form and content of claims
...
(7) Where the European patent application contains drawings including reference signs, the technical features specified in the claims shall preferably be followed by such reference signs relating to these features, placed in parentheses, if the intelligibility of the claim can thereby be increased. These reference signs shall not be construed as limiting the claim.

EPC細則43規範歐洲專利申請案包括圖式(與元件編號),請求項所界定技術特徵較佳可以括號標註這些元件編號,而這些標註並不會用來限定專利範圍。

Guidelines F-IV, 4.19
(Part F – The European Patent Application
Chapter IV – Claims (Art. 84 and formal requirements)
4. Clarity and interpretation of claims
4.19 Reference signs)

4.19 Reference signs

If the application contains drawings, and the comprehension of the claims would be improved by establishing the connection between the features mentioned in the claims and the corresponding reference signs in the drawings, then appropriate reference signs should be placed in parentheses after the features mentioned in the claims. If there is a large number of different embodiments, only the reference signs of the most important embodiments need be incorporated in the independent claim(s). Where claims are drafted in the two-part form set out in Rule 43(1), the reference signs should be inserted not only in the characterising part but also in the preamble of the claims. Reference signs should not however be seen as limiting the extent of the matter protected by the claims; their sole function is to make claims easier to understand. A comment to that effect in the description is acceptable (see T 237/84).

If text is added to reference signs in parentheses in the claims, lack of clarity can arise (Art. 84). Expressions such as "securing means (screw 13, nail 14)" or "valve assembly (valve seat 23, valve element 27, valve seat 28)" are not reference signs in the sense of Rule 43(7) but are special features, to which the last sentence of Rule 43(7) is not applicable. Consequently, it is unclear whether the features added to the reference signs are limiting or not. Accordingly, such bracketed features are generally not permissible. However, additional references to those figures where particular reference signs are to be found, such as "(13 - Figure 3; 14 - Figure 4)", are unobjectionable.

A lack of clarity can also arise with bracketed expressions that do not include reference signs, e.g. "(concrete) moulded brick". In contrast, bracketed expressions with a generally accepted meaning are allowable, e.g.-"(meth)acrylate" which is known as an abbreviation for "acrylate and methacrylate". The use of brackets in chemical or mathematical formulae is also unobjectionable.

根據歐洲專利審查指南F-IV, 4.19規定了「元件標號」標註在請求項中的規定,請求項的理解可以透過與說明書圖式的方式來改善,也就是標註在請求項中元件上的編號,如果有多個實施例都有相同元件,可以以最重要的實施例來標示

專利法細則Rule 43(1)規範歐洲專利請求項應以兩段式撰寫,因此前言部分的元件也應標註元件編號。即便在請求項元件上加註標號,但不以此為限制。

說明書加入此段宣告(請求項中元件編號不是用來限制專利範圍)可以被接受的(案例T 237/84)。

這裡提到一些不明確的標註方式:
"securing means (screw 13, nail 14)"
"valve assembly (valve seat 23, valve element 27, valve seat 28)"

除了常見單純地加入元件編號的方式以外,以下方式可被接受:
"(13 - Figure 3; 14 - Figure 4)"

不得使用括號描述元件意思,但特別提到化學案與數學式可以使用括號,如可以接受以括號表示縮寫原本的意思。

範例:
一般記載範例:
9. A production process for a water-absorbent resin, comprising the steps of: blending a liquid material (B) and a water-absorbent resin (A); and heating the resultant mixture in order to produce a modified water-absorbent resin,
   with the production process being characterized by further comprising the step of heat-treating a water-absorbent resin under an atmosphere having a dew point of not higher than 60 °C and a temperature of not lower than 90 °C, wherein the water-absorbent resin is obtained after a drying step following a pulverization step.

有關在請求項記載縮寫與原文的範例:
22. The electrochromic monomer composition according to claim 2, wherein said photoinitiator of (e) is a member selected from the group consisting of "ESACURE" TZT (trimethyl benzophenone blend), "ESACURE" KB1 (benzildimethyl ketal), "ESACURE" EB3 (mixture of benzoin n-butyl ethers), "ESACURE" KB60 (60% solution of benzildimethyl ketal), "ESACURE" KIP 100F (α-hydroxy ketone), "ESACURE" ITX (i-propyl thioxanthone), "ESACURE" EDB [ethyl-4-(dimethylamino)-benzoate], "IRGACURE" 184, "IRGACURE" 907, "IRGACURE" 369, "IRGACURE" 500, "IRGACURE" 651, "IRGACURE" 261, "IRGACURE" 784, "DAROCURE" 1173, "DAROCURE" 4265, "CYRACURE" UVI-6974 (mixed triaryl sulfonium hexafluoroantimonate salts), "CYRACURE" UVI-6990 (mixed triaryl sulfonium hexafluorophosphate salts), dl- camphorquinone and combinations thereof.

請求項數學式的記載範例:
12. The integer frequency offset estimator according to claim 11, wherein the correlation value given by the above correlator is represented by the following formula:
Figure 00180001
where m is the amount of cyclic shift, * is a complex conjugate, Xn,k is a known scattered pilot, Yn,k is the k-th sub-carrier signal among the n-th OFDM symbol, P is a location of the scattered pilot, k max p is the last sub-carrier index of the scattered pilot within one OFDM symbol, and Δ is an interval between two adjacent scattered pilots.

Ron

2016年10月17日 星期一

功能用語"處理系統"的明確性討論 - Cox Communications v. Sprint (Fed. Cir. 2016)

CAFC案件Cox Communications v. Sprint (Fed. Cir. 2016)涉及違反美國專利法第112條(2)規定的判定標準,還好是CAFC板回一城,否則地方法院嚴格的明確性問題繼續延燒下去的話,專利不好准,也不好寫。

案件資訊:
原告/被上訴人:COX COMMUNICATIONS, INC.  et al.
專利權人/被告/上訴人:SPRINT COMMUNICATION COMPANY LP
系爭專利:6,452,932; 6,463,052; 6,633,561; 7,286,561; 6,298,064; and 6,473,429

這些系爭專利為同一個家族,母案源自1994年的專利申請案,前四篇有一樣的說明書內容,後兩篇為另一相同說明書,皆關於一種VoIP訊號傳輸的電信控制技術,其中重要的是處理進出傳統電話網路與數據網路之間轉換訊號。


列舉一例,US6,452,932的Claim 1揭示一種處理通話的方法,在訊號進入交換機以前以一處理系統("processing system")處理訊息,並選擇進入其中之一交換機,接著即開始傳輸訊息。
1. A method for handling a call having a first message and communications, the method comprising:
receiving and processing the first message in a processing system external to narrowband switches to select one of the narrowband switches;
generating a second message in the processing system based on the selected narrowband switch and transmitting the second message from the processing system; and
receiving the second message and the communications in an asynchronous communication system and transferring the communications to the selected narrowband switch in response to the second message.

說明書中有關"processing system"的描述如(編者僅用processing system為關鍵字摘錄內容,但是實際上是要通篇來看是否有支持請求項的描述):

"The present invention also includes a telecommunications processing system which comprises an interface that is external to the switches and is operational to receive and transmit signaling. The processing system also includes a translator that is coupled to the interface and is operational to identify particular information in the received signaling and to generate new signaling based on new information. ..."

"The CCP (communication control processor) is a processing system, and as such, those skilled in the art are aware that such systems can be housed in a single device or distributed among several devices. ..."

US6,633,561的Claim 1:
1. A method of operating a processing system to control a packet communication system for a user communication, the method comprising:
receiving a signaling message for the user communication from a narrowband communication system into the processing system;
processing the signaling message to select a network code that identifies a network element to provide egress from the packet communication system for the user communication;
generating a control message indicating the network code;
transferring the control message from the processing system to the packet communication system
receiving the user communication in the packet communication system and using the network code to route the user communication through the packet communication system to the network element; and
transferring the user communication from the network element to provide egress from the packet communication system.



本案例緣起自2011開始由Sprint興起的多件地方法院訴訟,最早有12件專利,目前案例為其中6件,被告之一Cox Communications等在2012年提起專利無效與不侵權的確認之訴(declaratory judgment),到了2014年,地院作了特別的決定,認為系爭專利請求項中用語「processing system」並不是不明確,但是卻沒有斷定專利範圍解釋("...the district court decided, among other things, that the term “processing system” was not indefinite, but did not warrant a construction.")(編按,這應表示此用語並未明確界定專利範圍)。

根據此決定,2015年,被告Cox提出"processing system"不明確(112(2))的部分簡易判決(summary judgment),地院同意此請願,並認為專利範圍不明確,理由是,請求項界定結構特徵,但"processing system"為功能用語,並未符合案例Nautilus(如下連結)中讓發明相關技術領域中一般技術人員可以充分瞭解專利範圍,且外部證據也無法讓這些技術人員可以清楚定義出何謂"processing system",也就是不能確定此用語在此發明的意義(‘established meaning in the art’)

專利權人Sprint對此不明確議題提出上訴。

[相關法條]

35 U.S.C. 112   SPECIFICATION

  • (b) CONCLUSION.—The specification shall conclude with one or more claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter which the inventor or a joint inventor regards as the invention.

案件進入CAFC階段,CAFC重新閱卷審查,審理地方法院意見是否有不符法律的問題,首先來看"processing system"是否是「功能手段用語」?是否使得專利範圍不明確?

關於明確性的判斷,遵循的是美國最高法院案例Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc.的意見:當請求項發明,參考說明書內容、審查歷史之後,仍不能讓相關領域技術人員瞭解發明範疇,專利範圍為不明確


CAFC提出一個不錯的論點,各系爭專利範圍為方法範圍,當中有個元件「processing system」,其實在解釋系爭專利專利範圍並沒有用處,在新穎性的判斷中,僅關切當中步驟流程,即便移除這個元件,也不會改變對各請求項的解釋,特別製作了一個對照表,左欄為原本'561案Claim 1,右欄為移除"processing system"之後的範圍:


'064案Claim 1對照表:


除了移除"processing system"不會影響專利範圍的解釋,或者說,把此元件以"computer"取代,也沒有改變專利範圍,而且此案口頭辯論時,雙方都同意其實"processing system"就是一個一般目的的電腦。

並且,即在案例Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc.中,所關切的明確性是指"claims",而非特定元件用語,因此明確性應以整體來看,查閱說明書與審查歷史,若沒辦法讓相關領域技術人員可以理解專利範圍的話,就是不明確。


以此原則來看本案例系爭專利的明確性,發現其實"processing system"並沒有造成系爭專利範圍不能被實施,整個專利範圍非不明確,即便這是功能用語,但是並非這樣寫法都是不明確。

CAFC不同意的地方法院的是,其實系爭專利請求項中"processing system"並未不明確,因為說明書已經揭露足夠的內容,讓相關技術領域人員合理確定的內容("reasonable certainty")。

CAFC判決可以成為參考:
"In sum, “processing system” does not render the claims indefinite because it does not prevent the claims, read in light of the specification and the prosecution history, from informing those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention with reasonable certainty. Although the asserted patents describe the operation of the “processing system” in largely functional terms, the recited steps, read in light of the specification, provide sufficient detail such that a person of ordinary skill in the art would understand them with reasonable certainty."

另一法官Newman也同意此判決。

補充資料:
最高法院對明確性的態度 - Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc.http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/06/nautilus-inc-v-biosig-instruments-inc.html
"最高法院法官提到專利的基本定義,就是政府提供發明人一段時間內的獨佔權(limited monopoly),因此專利揭露以及要求某個範圍的獨占性時,包括其目的是要與先前技術區隔,其範圍的"邊界"理應清楚專利在考量了說明書、審查歷史等仍無法讓相關技術人員可以瞭解專利範圍時,認定為不明確(這回歸一般原則)。"

CAFC第二次對Nautilus v. Biosig作出判決(April 27, 2015)(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2015/12/cafcnautilus-v-biosigapril-27-2015.html

my two cents:
在我寫的專利領域中,確實有時會用到「處理系統(processing system)」、「處理單元」、「處理模組」、「處理手段」等用語,如此,雖然這是一個通常的元件(可以自己承認是一般電腦系統),但重點是,當各種專利都用不同的方式定義這個詞的時候,在說明書明確定義出這個用語的意義十分重要,包括可以結構描述,或是用動作來描述它的功能。

另外,如果在專利範圍中(通常是指方法專利)擺入一個元件並未造成任何專利性的改變,這個元件其實可有可無,或是隨時可以被取代,但是常常這個元件的置入是為了符合明確性,確定「主詞」或是「動作者」或是「受體」,只是解釋範圍時,這個元件是no weight。

判決文:
資料參考:

Ron