2017年10月16日 星期一

缺乏實際爭議而興訟不成 - Innovative Therapies, Inc. v. Kinetic Concepts, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2013)

本篇討論2010年CAFC判決「Innovative Therapies, Inc. v. Kinetic Concepts, Inc., 599 F.3d 1377 (Fed. Cir. 2013)」關於訴訟是否具有「實際爭議」的議題,有爭議訴訟才有意義,即便其中一方故意挑釁,但另一方如果"冷處理",相關間接的對話都不會產生值得訴訟的爭議,還有,即便被挑釁的一方也不爽了,後續訴訟並不影響先前的判斷。

引用Innovative Therapies案的先前報導:國外訴訟無法啟動美國訴訟的討論 - Allied Mineral v. OSMI and Stellar Materials (Fed. Cir. 2017)http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2017/10/allied-mineral-v-osmi-and-stellar.html

案件資訊:
原告/上訴人:INNOVATIVE THERAPIES, INC.("ITI")
被告/被上訴人:KINETIC CONCEPTS, INC.("KCI"), KCI LICENSING, INC., and KCI USA, INC.
系爭專利:4,969,880; 5,645,081; 5,636,643; 7,198,046; and 7,216,651

案例中被告KCI擁有五件專利,有關以負壓治療慢性傷害的醫療裝置,於2006年創立的ITI僱用了前KCI員工 - Dr. Paul Svedman。

後進ITI提出KCI五件專利無效以及所販售的裝置並未侵害KCI專利的「確認之訴」,KCI反過來提起「lack of declaratory jurisdiction」請願(缺乏實際爭議),地院同意並撤銷訴訟,ITI上訴CAFC,ITI提出幾點與KCI具有實際爭議的理由(相關案例:MedImmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., 549 U.S. 118 (2007))。

1)ITI已經在FDA提出申請相關設備上市(Svedman Wound Treatment System);
(2)ITI去電KCI行政部門;
(3)KCI的專利主張歷史。

對於第(1)點:
CAFC認為,雖然有意義的預備的侵權行為可能滿足「declaratory jurisdiction」,但如案例Cat Tech LLC v. Tubemaster, Inc., 528 F.3d 871, 881 (Fed. Cir. 2008),向第三方展示技術並不建立與專利權人之間的法律爭議,所以CAFC認為,即便KCI可能知道ITI對FDA提交的資料,但並不建立法律爭議的意圖。



對於第(2)點:
ITI去電KCI是否造成法律爭議的要件?第一通電話中提到ITI的醫療裝置,KCI技術主管表示如果有侵權議題,KCI將積極行事;第二通電話是打給KCI製造副總,有相似的內容與回應。CAFC認為,這些間接表示的談話並不造成立即而實際的爭議。相關案例:SanDisk Corp. v. STMicroelectronics, Inc., 480 F.3d 1372, 1378 (Fed. Cir. 2007)

事實上,當相關產品還未上市以及被評估侵權風險,這些來往電話並非建構任何侵權的威脅。


對於第(3)點:
當CAFC考量KCI的訴訟歷史,KCI曾經提出的訴訟是對其他對象與其他產品,如此並不直接針對ITI,也不同於前例MedImmune中造成實際爭議的條件。



MedImmune案告訴我們:"MedImmune did not hold that a patent can always be challenged whenever it appears to pose a risk of infringement."。

不公平競爭:
ITI提起的不公平競爭因為未有爭議在本次地院(District Court of Delaware),也沒有證人在此,因此也是否決ITI提出的爭議。

此案後續特別的是,CAFC否決了ITI的實際爭議的主張後,KCI真的對ITI提出告訴,這樣是否就有「實際爭議」? 不過,法院認為隨後的行為並不影響此先前的判斷。

CAFC同意地院撤銷訴訟的決定,理由是缺乏實際爭議("absence of an actual controversy")。

my two cents:
表面上看來是,ITI有意挑釁KCI,並想在產品上市前(需要等待FDA)將障礙清除,手段是利用專利無效與不侵權的確認之訴,但是訴訟要有「實際的爭議」,要不然算是濫用司法資源,我想以上幾點討論算是提供我們一個興訟的標準的知識。

判決文:
http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/09-1085.pdf
(備份:https://app.box.com/s/i55tbtp1fwqgnrfp61dpap2uqe3tik6g

Finnegan分析:
https://www.finnegan.com/en/tools/innovative-therapies-inc-v-kinetic-concepts-ltd/analysis.html

Ron

2017年10月12日 星期四

方形Home鍵的iPhone歐洲設計歷程

Apple Inc.的歐洲共同體設計「RCD000888920-0018」曾見於Apple用來告Samsung的設計案portfolio中,可參考部落格文章:Apple再使用設計專利告Samsung(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2012/01/applesamsung.html),特別的是,這件設計的手機的Home鍵外觀有別於上市的iPhone圓形Home鍵:



EUIPO提供很棒的Timeline圖形資訊:


眾多設計人(發明人)中,Steve Jobs很"謙卑地"列名最後:



優先權主張有兩件美國設計申請案:


29/284,272


29/284,187


但特別的是,這兩件優先權案的Home鍵就是一般iPhone的圓形,為何到了歐洲就變成方形,這就不曉得了,但是仍是因為整體設計概念如出一轍,優先權算是OK(?)。

從EUIPO公開資料可知,本案曾遭受Samsung提出無效,無效判決後又經Apple提出訴願,最後是和解收場。



在無效案中,Samsung拿出自己的手機,以及多件RCD與美國設計作為證據,無非都是要證明「手機表面上的Home鍵」以及「四角為圓弧」的設計已見於先前設計中。以下僅列舉部分:













Samsung也舉出本案RCD與美國優先權案的設計不同:



從中也可學習到純粹的功能性元件會被排除在解釋的設計範圍以外,所以,能夠解釋的設計元件會變少,相對愈簡單的設計,愈不容易被留下。


不過,在無效決定中,認為此設計相對於被濃縮到D2, D4與D15等前案的特徵具有獨特點(individual character),無效不成立!

案件進入訴願程序,最後在訴願中和解了!

其實,設計範圍經此一折騰,也不會解釋到多寬了!

本篇主要資訊來源:
https://euipo.europa.eu/eSearch/#details/designs/000888920-0018

無效決定(備份):
https://app.box.com/s/twgu3sgjz691yqxle8s1cwv4qkcrf0ty

訴願決定(備份):
https://app.box.com/s/gc81zb4rlhk7s93n98qo90y9ifab8isg

Ron

2017年10月11日 星期三

國外訴訟無法啟動美國訴訟的討論 - Allied Mineral v. OSMI and Stellar Materials (Fed. Cir. 2017)

Allied Mineral v. OSMI and Stellar Materials (Fed. Cir. 2017)

案件資訊:
原告/上訴人:ALLIED MINERAL PRODUCTS, INC., AN OHIO CORPORATION
被告/被上訴人:OSMI, INC., STELLAR MATERIALS, INC., STELLAR MATERIALS, LLC
系爭專利:
US7,503,974(專利權人:Stellar Materials, Inc.)
Mexican Patent No. 279757

本篇提到的,國外訴訟卻在美國無法啟始訴訟,其中故事很重要。

本案緣起原告Allied Mineral Products, Inc.之前在Southern District of Florida對OSMI, Stellar等公司提出"侵權不成立"、"專利無效"以及專利權人"不公平行為("inequitable conduct")"的「確認之訴("declaratory judgment")」,而地院因為認為訴訟無理由而撤銷訴訟,於是Allied Mineral Products, Inc.提出上訴。

時間回到上訴「確認之訴」之前,起源於本案例專利權人Stellar Materials, Inc.在墨西哥與Allied Mineral Products, Inc.的墨西哥經銷商Ferro Alloys de Mexico S.A. de C.V. (“Ferro”)以及Pyrotek Mexico S. de R.L. de C.V. (“Pyrotek”)的侵權爭議。Stellar在墨西哥對以上兩個經銷商發出警告信,認為他們販售Allied Mineral Products, Inc.在美國製造的水泥產品已經侵害墨西哥專利no. 279757

Allied Mineral Products, Inc.自然出面解決問題,回應警告信,主張侵權不成立,Stellar沒有直接回應這個回應Stellar Materials, Inc.接續侵權告訴,不過,特別的是,Allied Mineral Products, Inc.自反倒在美國佛州地方法院提出"侵權不成立"、"專利無效"、專利權人因為"不公平行為"而無法主張專利權,以及"惡意干擾企業(tortious interference with business relationships under Florida state law)"的確認之訴。

而墨西哥訴訟原告Stellar Materials, Inc.提出"在美國缺乏訴訟主體("lack of subject matter jurisdiction")"的反訴理由,地院接受並撤銷訴訟,顯示國外訴訟無法在美國啟動實際爭議,且原專利權人Stellar也沒有意圖在美國對Allied主張其'974專利權

理由:“Stellar’s decision to enforce its Mexican patent under Mexican law against separate entities cannot, without further affirmative action by Stellar, create an actual controversy with Allied with regard to its U.S. Patent.

"The district court found that the complaint was “devoid of any allegations that Stellar has done
anything to give Allied a reasonable belief that Stellar intends to enforce its ’974 Patent in the United States.”"

Stellar Materials, Inc.是一個耐火建材製造商,擁有系爭專利US7,503,974,是一種水泥材料,如其中Claim 1所界定的材料,Claim 16提到水泥材料有兩部分 - A部分:氧化鎂已經熔化並粉碎成小於200微米的尺寸,以及B部分:酸性磷酸水溶液。

1. A cementitious material comprising:
a phosphate based component of calcium phosphate, phosphoric acid, or magnesium phosphate; and
an alkali earth ion component comprising a majority by alkali earth ion atomic stoichiometry a calcium aluminate calcium ion source having a form selected from the group consisting of: dodeca-calcium hepta-aluminate, tricalcium aluminate, and a combination thereof where said phosphate based component and said calcium aluminate are present in proportions to yield a rigid structure upon forming a calcium phosphate.
16. A two-part cementitious material formulation comprising:
magnesium oxide tat has been fused and crushed to a size of less than 200 microns as part A; and
an aqueous acid phosphate solution as part B.

CAFC階段:

是否會在美國「產生實際爭議」成為國外案件是否會在美國爭訟的條件,最高法院曾經提出一些條件:「觸及法律利益」以及「具有真實與現實的爭議」。

"Our decisions have required that the dispute be definite and concrete, touching the legal relations
of parties having adverse legal interests; and that it be real and substantial and admit of specific relief through a decree of a conclusive character, as distinguished from an opinion advising what the law would be upon a hypothetical state off acts . . . . Basically, the question in each case is whether the facts alleged, under all the circumstances, show that there is a substantial controversy, between parties having adverse legal interests, of sufficient immediacy and reality to warrant the issuance of a declaratory judgment."

CAFC法官認為專利權人Stellar在美國並未對Allied提出任何法律訴訟,而且主要對象是Allied的兩個經銷商,而專利權人Stellar的「不回應Allied協助其經銷商回應警告信的信息,也成為重要指標,以及,專利權人Stellar一直以來訴訟對象都是經銷商販售產品,限縮訴訟範圍在墨西哥,根據墨西哥法律,而非對美國製造商,這些種種原因,讓似乎對峙的雙方「其實沒有實際爭議」。



這裡提到一個案例「Innovative Therapies, Inc. v. Kinetic Concepts, Inc., 599 F.3d 1377 (Fed. Cir. 2010)(updated on Oct. 16, 2017, CAFC網站與Google上資訊是2010年,非2013),似乎值得去探討。在Innovative Therapies, Inc. v. Kinetic Concepts, Inc.案例中,即便是美國本土公司的爭議,也可能因為失去訴訟主體,而不足以可以產生實際訴訟。

另有Allied提出的案例「Arkema Inc. v. Honeywell International, Inc., 706 F.3d 1351 (Fed. Cir.
2013)」,這自然是支持Allied論點的案例,不過,還是不同的地方是,此Arkema案例在德國有訴訟爭議,但同時也在美國有相同爭議的訴訟,兩者互相影響是有可能的。

再有一案例「Arris Group v. British Telecommunications PLC, 639 F.3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 2011)」,其中指出製造商可以提出「確認之訴」的理由有:(1)製造商在其客戶遭遇侵權訴訟時有義務賠償;(2)專利權人與製造商之間有爭議,使得其客戶的直接侵權造成製造商有共同侵權責任的情況

"(1) the manufacturer is obligated to indemnify its customers in the event of an infringement
suit; or (2) there is a controversy between the patentee and the manufacturer as to the manufacturer’s liability for induced or contributory infringement based on acts of direct infringement by the customers."

CAFC法官認為本次爭議並不同於以上幾件前例,情況不相同:

第一,Allied沒有主張有義務賠償被告的兩個墨西哥經銷商;第二,雙方在美國沒有侵權訴訟;第三,本案雙方沒有以上案例Arris Group v. British Telecommunications PLC雙方的爭議;以及,第四,專利權人Stellar並未在美國主張他的專利權'974。

最後,CAFC同意地院撤銷訴訟的判決。看來,Stellar的種種"動作"與"不動作"是十分智慧而冷靜的

my two cents:
雖可能是後話,但仍可說「不戰而屈人之兵」真是最高段的策略,手邊有專利,卻不動作,有明確對手,卻不直接攻擊,這十分冷靜。

大概只有美國有機會碰到這樣的案例,當美國成為國際仲裁者時,相關爭議可能會想要到美國「找到正義」,不過,是不是會在美國"產生實際爭議",成為是否成立的條件。

在本案中,專利權人Stellar十分聰明,應該是律師厲害,第一,在美國沒有啟動任何爭議;第二,在動作上因為沒有直接回應被告回應警告信的訊息;第三,訴訟一直僅在墨西哥,兩者之間沒有啟動「實際爭議」,成為法官撤銷美國訴訟的關鍵。

判決文:
http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/16-2641.Opinion.9-11-2017.1.PDF
(備份:https://app.box.com/s/qyrxv5941no247lxlyeds8zx0thum97y

資料參考:
https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/09/foreign-lawsuit-jurisdiction.html

Ron

2017年10月6日 星期五

解釋專利範圍討論 - 源自Columbia Sportswear v. Seirus Innovative案例

本篇是截自前一篇侵權訴訟中,地方法院在判決文中解釋專利範圍時,提到許多專利範圍用語的解釋,本篇摘錄如下。Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc. v. Seirus Innovative Accessories, No. 32015cv00064 - Document 106(備份:https://app.box.com/s/d9f23l9mbtp9ttyc869489zw0irwzk4i

前篇:設計專利侵權賠償不會僅針對最終產品來算 - Columbia Sportswear v. Seirus Innovative(https://enpan.blogspot.tw/2017/10/columbia-sportswear-v-seirus-innovative.html

本篇侵權訴訟判決中,系爭專利有:US8,424,119、US8,453,270,以及USD657,093,標準地,侵權討論之前,會先解釋專利範圍,一般原則參考了案例「Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1312 (Fed. Cir. 2005)」(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2015/05/phillips-v-awh-corp-fed-cir-2005.html),以及最廣且合理的解釋(Broadest and Reasonable Interpretation,BRI,http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2017/06/bri-mpep-2111.html)。

本篇判決中,解釋專利範圍前,法官"整理"了許多案例提供的解釋專利範圍的指示,以下摘錄一些重點:

"Patent claims must precisely define the relevant invention to put both the public and competitors on notice of the claimed invention."

"During patent examination, the pending claims must be “given their broadest reasonable interpretation consistent with the specification.” The Federal Circuit’s en banc decision in Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1316, 75 USPQ2d 1321, 1329 (Fed. Cir. 2005) expressly recognized that the USPTO employs the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard:

The Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) determines the scope of claims in patent applications not solely on the basis of the claim language, but upon giving claims their broadest reasonable construction “in light of the specificationas it would be interpreted by one of ordinary skill in the art.”" ...

The words of the a claim are generally given their ordinary and customary meaning.

The ordinary and customary meaning of a claim term is the meaning that the term would have to a person of ordinary skill in the art in question at the time of the invention, i.e., as of the effective filing date of the patent application.

"Beyond the plain language of the claims, the patent specification is always highly relevant and often dispositive to the proper construction."

"The inventor can use the specification to describe the invention in a number of ways, such as describing different “embodiments” of the invention and by assigning particular meanings to specific claim language."

"The prosecution history becomes useful where it “provides evidence of how the PTO and the inventor understood the patent.”"

The inventor's Lexicography:
"The inventor can also clarify that he or she intends the claim language to carry a specific meaning different from its ordinary one."

針對系爭專利的用語解釋專利範圍,多是關於其技術的描述,然而,仍有些「通用」的用語解釋,值得來理解。

「adapted to」或「adapted for」:
可以解釋為"made to"、"designed to"、"configured to",也可以是"capable of"、"suitable for",在本案例中,解釋為"suited by design to"或"suited by design for"。

法官意見:
“adapted to” or “adapted for” means “suited by design to” or “suited by design for”;
“adapted for use with body gear” means “suited by design for use with body gear”;
“adapted to allow, impede, and/or restrict passage” means “suited by design to allow, impede, and/or restrict passage.”

「discontinuous array」:
“discontinuous array” means “an arrangement of multiple, [discrete heat directing elements], whereby some of the base fabric is exposed between adjacent elements.”



設計專利範圍怎麼解釋:

專利權人這樣講:『設計用來反射熱的材料上有重複的鄰近對比色波浪圖案,而並不涉及圖案上的商標名稱或標誌,也不涉及圖案的轉向,以及顏色選擇。』
"A repeating pattern of adjacent wavy lines of contrasting colors on a material designed to reflect heat, without regard to (i) any trade names or logos in the pattern, (ii) orientation of the pattern, and (iii) the choices of the colors used."

侵權被告的解釋:『如圖所示的不中斷的波浪形狀單元的裝飾圖案。』
"The ornamental aspects of an uninterrupted pattern of wave shaped elements as shown and described."

法院拒絕這樣詳細口語的解釋設計專利範圍,搬出了最高法院在Egyptian Goddess案例中的意見,其中認為:設計若沒有圖式,任何描述都無法理解,設計很難用文字描述,就不要用詳細言詞去解釋設計專利範圍。

"“As the Supreme Court has recognized, a design is better represented by an illustration ‘than it could be by any description and a description would probably not be intelligible without the illustration.’ ”"

解釋設計專利範圍,可查詢Google或本部落格的設計專利案例:


my two cents:
過去有許多專利用語的案例報導,可以用「專利用語」搜尋本部落格。

Ron

2017年10月5日 星期四

設計專利侵權賠償不會僅針對最終產品來算 - Columbia Sportswear v. Seirus Innovative

這個爭議前例就是Apple v. Samsung,當陪審團與法官判定Samsung侵害Apple設計專利時,是否相關專利侵害的賠償是針對「最終產品」的銷售與對照的損失,因為最終產品的產生有許多元件與功能,並非是「外觀」而已,所以在賠償金額計算中,涉及的法條是35 U.S.C. 289,目前的理解是「設計專利的侵權賠償係針對"article of manufacture",而"article of manufacture"在最高法院的解釋中,並非僅指著"final product",而可為產品的某元件」,因此判斷侵權賠償是會按照「總體損失/利潤的比例」來判。

35 U.S.C. 289    ADDITIONAL REMEDY FOR INFRINGEMENT OF DESIGN PATENT.

Whoever during the term of a patent for a design, without license of the owner, (1) applies the patented design, or any colorable imitation thereof, to any article of manufacture for the purpose of sale, or (2) sells or exposes for sale any article of manufacture to which such design or colorable imitation has been applied shall be liable to the owner to the extent of his total profit, but not less than $250, recoverable in any United States district court having jurisdiction of the parties.

參考案例:最高法院認為設計專利僅涉及產品一部分 - Samsung v. Apple (Supreme Court 2016)(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2016/12/samsung-v-apple-supreme-court-2016.html

Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc. v. Seirus Innovative Accessories, No. 3:2015cv00064
案件資訊:
原告/專利權人:Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc.
被告Seirus Innovative Accessories
系爭專利:D657093

本案緣起專利權人Columbia Sportswear對一些廠商提出侵權告訴,當時提出三件專利:US 8,424,119、US8,453,270,以及本次討論的系爭專利D657,093。

其中US8,453,270專利描述了具有花紋的材料以及作成衣服的結構與材料:


設計案主要是圖本身,D657093主要圖式如下,是一種熱反射材料:



被告Seirus產品「HeatWave」:

https://www.seirus.com/snow-sports/gloves/heatwave

在訴訟中,被告自然會提起專利無效的議題,甚至有利害關係者Ventex提出IPR,使得專利在無效爭訟中顯得不夠穩定,最後陪審團還認定原本提告的系爭專利中發明專利是無效的,設計雖然有效,但是判定的非蓄意侵權的賠償金額為總體被告產品利益的一小部份。

在陪審團判決前解釋專利範圍,比對侵權物,其中有許多專利範圍用語的解釋也頗有意思,將另章討論。
Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc. v. Seirus Innovative Accessories, No. 32015cv00064 - Document 106(備份:https://app.box.com/s/d9f23l9mbtp9ttyc869489zw0irwzk4i

陪審團判決中,被告產品的全部獲利有3,018,174美元,但被判補償金僅43萬美元。



資料參考:
https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/10/samsung-damages-verdict.html

Ron

日本專利用語對照筆記

這篇就僅是筆記

日本專利編號用語對照如下(從JPO網站日文與英文對應網頁截圖):


整理一些專門用語:
  • 特許 - 發明專利(invention)
  • 實用新案 - 新型專利(utility model)
  • 意匠 - 設計(design)
  • 審判 - 訴訟(trial)
  • 經過情報 - 審查歷史(prosecution history)
  • 特許出願番号 - 專利申請號(patent application number)
  • 特開 - 專利公開(patent publication)
  • 特許 - 專利公告(granted patent publication)
  • 公開、公表特許公報(A)- 專利公開號(早期公開)(publication of patent application)
  • 特許公報、公告特許公報(B)- 專利核准公告號(publication of examined/granted patent)
  • 特許發明明細書 - 專利說明書(patent specification)
  • 特許審判番號 - 專利訴願/審判號(patent appeal/trial number)
  • 實用新型出願番號 - 新型專利申請號(utility model application number)
  • 公開、公表、登錄實用新型公報 - 實用新型公開(publication of utility model application)
  • 實用新型審判番號 - 新型專利訴願/審判號(utility model appeal/trial number)

日本專利類別碼(kind code):
A: 未審查的早期公開專利申請案
B: 已審查的公告專利申請案
B1: 未經公開的核准專利
B2: 經過早期公開的核准專利
T: 未審查的外國人申請案
U: 登記註冊的實用新型
U6: 經過修正的註冊實用新型

http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2009/05/kind-code-ii.html
http://www.cas.org/content/references/patkind
JPJapanAKokai Tokkyo Koho (Published unexamined patent application)
BTokkyo Koho (Published examined patent application)
B1Tokkyo Koho (Granted patent without prior A)
B2Tokkyo Koho (Granted patent with preceding publication)
TKohyo Koho (Unexamined patent application on foreign application)
UToroku Jitsuyo Shinan Koho (Registered Utility Model Application)
U6Toroku Jitsuyo Shinan Koho Teisei (Correction to Registered Utility Model Application)


Ron

2017年10月2日 星期一

「付諸實現」的發明人議題 - NFC Tech v. Matal (Fed. Cir. 2017)

發明人一般包括概念的發起人,以及付諸實現的人,但是「發明日」的定義其實很模糊,原則上應該可以說是「付諸實現(production to practice)」的那一天,不過那一天又是哪一天?

過去(pre-AIA)對於「發明日(invention date)」的探討十分執著,但是現在(post-AIA)則可以簡單設定在「專利申請日」。如此,若案件落於pre-AIA與post-AIA之間,這個判斷就顯得複雜多了,剛好可以趁這個案例釐清這個問題。

在這樣的爭議中,除了日期以外(AIA已經單純化),也跟「發明人權(inventorship)」有關,有時還可能更為複雜(AIA不見得可以解決)。

"此案例涉及何謂「reduction to practice」付諸實現的時間?如果技術僅止於概念,概念本身並不需要證明;但如果概念得到科學驗證,這就是reduction to practice;還有,如果概念實現達到預期的目的,也是一種reduction to practice。"

"值得一提的是,所有"有效申請日"在3/16/2013之前的美國專利申請案都在舊法規定中;所有"有效申請日"在3/16/2013之後的美國申請案都在新法規定中,但這些都是以專利範圍(Claims)而定,如果有些Claims的"有效申請日"是在3/16/2013之前提出,適用舊法,如果同一案其他Claims的"有效申請日"是在3/16/2013之後提出,則適用新法。(這樣的狀況應該是同一申請案主張兩個以上的優先權,而兩個優先權日剛好橫跨3/16/2013這天前後
(摘錄USPTO答客問)"

案件資訊:
上訴人:NFC TECHNOLOGY, LLC
系爭專利:US6,700,551 (IPR2014-01198)

本案為系爭專利在IPR階段被判無效的上訴案件,議題涉及系爭專利的發明人問題而失去優先權主張的問題,其中關於「NFC」這個通訊技術的專利始於1999年,不過爭議中的發明人卻主張其付諸實現的日期溯及1998年。這時是pre-AIA時期,專利權可以主張更早的「發明日」,但這樣的爭議就顯得複雜,特別是法院將要求專利權人"證明"最早概念(conception)、付出努力(diligence)以及「付諸實現」的發明日(date to reduce that invention to practice)

PTAB階段:
系爭專利發明人為「Bruno Charrat」,主張FR9904108(之後進入PCT/FR00/00712)優先權,在IPR階段,PTAB卻認為晶片製造"Concept Electronique – CE"製作了NFC原型(prototype),因此Bruno Charrat並非付諸實現的人,除非可以證明CE的概念來自於Bruno Charrat


IPR2014-01198(Final Decision: https://app.box.com/s/anhwuco6xah99d7znuwx8o9mdldeind4

當初IPR是由HTC提出,原本議題是專利性(102(e), 103(a))問題,引證前案資料:


系爭專利優先權FR9904108,優先權日:Mar. 25, 1999,但仍晚於前案Sears(申請日:Feb. 8, 1999),不過專利權人主張系爭專利發明更早在1998年就付諸實現,...,如此,使得PTAB轉向討論發明人是誰的議題,但是,即便專利權人提出證據證明發明人在INSIDE公司任職,而完成發明時"指導"CE製作原型等的證據,卻缺少直接證據(缺乏INSIDE與CE的書信內容),最後反倒認為完成原型的CE才是付諸實現的發明人。

"Further, an actual reduction to practice can be done by another on behalf of the inventor. De Solms v. Schoenwald, 15 USPQ2d 1507, 1510 (BPAI 1990). Here, it is undisputed that Concept Electronique, rather than the named inventor, Mr. Charrat, fabricated the prototype, on which Patent Owner relies to establish actual reduction to practice."

PTAB倚賴這個「兩段測試法」證明誰是「付諸實現(reduction to practice)」的人:(1)建構出實施例或執行滿足每一個專利範圍元件的程序;(2)運作專利預期目的的實施例或流程。

"A party seeking to establish an actual reduction to practice must satisfy a two-prong test: (1) the party must construct an embodiment or perform a process that satisfies every element of the claim at issue, and (2) the embodiment or process must operate for its intended purpose."

這顯然是涉及「證據力」的議題,證據力不夠,就以客觀證據來決定誰是付諸實現的人。

經PTAB判斷系爭專利發明人與CE的關係並非是指導其完成發明的時候,顯然系爭專利無法主張到比引證案日期更早的發明日,就真槍實彈來比對技術,如此,PTAB認定系爭專利無效(claims 1-3, 5)。


CAFC階段:

系爭專利US6,700,551關於一種天線振幅調變方法,天線相關電路有兩個通訊埠,包括提供電力,通過改變電力狀態而調變訊號振幅。

1. Method for modulating the amplitude of the antenna signal of an inductive antenna circuit comprising a coil, by means of a control circuit comprising binary ports that can be set to high impedance state and with a non-zero internal resistor, characterised in that the antenna circuit is electrically powered by at least two ports of the control circuit, and in that it comprises steps of:
setting the ports providing the electric supply of the antenna circuit to “1”, to supply the antenna circuit at full power level, and
changing the state of at least one of the ports providing the electric supply of the antenna circuit, to modulate the amplitude of the antenna signal.
這是專利權人提出系爭專利發明人與之後實現發明的CE的關係:


其實相關證據也頗為豐富,有六項,但是否如PTAB認為證據不足,就看法官怎麼判了。


專利權人並未提出專利性答辯,整個爭議就在發明日的判斷上,而發明日的判斷又涉及證據是否足以證明第三方「Concept Electronique – CE」完成的原型是來自系爭專利發明人的指導?

CAFC的判斷除了證據本身是否支持專利權人的主張之外,更看到PTAB錯用案例,如案例Woodland Trust,CAFC法官認為這個案例並非關於文件證據,而是公開使用(public use)的證據。反而,CAFC引用自己所作出的案例Loral Fairchild Corp. v. Matsushita Electric,其中發明人的帳號足以證明曾經與人共事而具有確鑿證據力。

(我覺得重要)還有另一個角度,原本IPR異議人HTC並未提出,如果不是系爭專利發明人Bruno Charrat的功勞,那CE或是INSIDE是如何開發出原型?反倒是,從文獻來看,Bruno Charrat是唯一有牽連的人。

最後,CAFC認為PTAB對於證據文獻是否足以判斷CE與發明人關係的認定上有誤,反倒是認為專利權人已經提出確鑿的證據支持發明人Bruno Charrat主張的付諸實現的日期

(本篇忽略法官如何看待專利權人提出的證據,僅就原則與結果而論)

my two cents:
證據,真是勝訴或敗訴的所在。

其他參考:
Reduction to Practice - Univ. Pittsburgh v. Hendrick (Fed. Cir. 2009)案例討論(https://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/08/reduction-to-practice-univ-pittsburgh-v.html
同一申請人先申請案的阻礙(新舊法討論筆記)(https://enpan.blogspot.tw/2013/03/blog-post_29.html

判決文:
http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/16-1808.Opinion.9-18-2017.1.PDF
(備份:https://app.box.com/s/uvblligczqa78rbucoxmhva2jkittt6w

資料參考:
https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/09/inventorship-prototype-production.html

Ron

2017年9月30日 星期六

美國與歐洲分割案的修正討論

筆記

「分割申請案(divisional application)」在多數國家的意義是從原母案中"切割"出尚未主張權利的技術,成為另一申請案的「申請專利範圍」的專利樣態,一旦獲准,分割案專利與母案一起"到期",分割案可獨立主張專利權。

編註:美國專利分割案為針對「限制選擇」後的申請樣態,將未選擇(non-elected)的申請專利範圍提出一延續案(DIV與CA寫作與申請規定是一致的),這時程序上稱為分割申請案(Divisional)。這樣看來,美國的延續申請案(Continuation Application,CA)是比較貼近其他各國的分割申請案的樣態。

美國專利:
美國延續申請案35 U.S.C. 120(AIA後):

35 U.S.C. 120 Benefit of earlier filing date in the United States.

An application for patent for an invention disclosed in the manner provided by section 112(a) (other than the requirement to disclose the best mode) in an application previously field in the United States, or as provided by section 363 which names an inventor or joint inventor in the previously filed application shall have the same effect, as to such invention, as though filed on the date of the prior application, if filed before the patenting or abandonment of or termination of proceedings on the first application or on an application similarly entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the first application and if it contains or is amended to contain a specific reference to the earlier filed application. No application shall be entitled to the benefit of an earlier filed application under this section unless an amendment containing the specific reference to the earlier filed application is submitted at such time during the pendency of the application as required by the Director. The Director may consider the failure to submit such an amendment within that time period as a waiver of any benefit under this section. ...

美國分割申請案35 U.S.C. 121(AIA後):

35 U.S.C. 121 Divisional applications.

If two or more independent and distinct inventions are claimed in one application, the Director may require the application to be restricted to one of the inventions. If the other invention is made the subject of a divisional application which complies with the requirements of section 120 it shall be entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the original application. A patent issuing on an application with respect to which a requirement for restriction under this section has been made, or on an application filed as a result of such a requirement, shall not be used as a reference either in the Patent and Trademark Office or in the courts against a divisional application or against the original application or any patent issued on either of them, if the divisional application is filed before the issuance of the patent on the other application. The validity of a patent shall not be questioned for failure of the Director to require the application to be restricted to one invention.

有趣的是,從法條本身找「amend、修正」的關鍵字,只有35 U.S.C. 120有修正的規範,這也是CA給申請人的彈性,在發明內容、實施例與原母案一致的條件下,可修正整篇說明書,並可提出新的申請專利範圍。

「分割申請案(DIV)」是從母案選出「限制選擇程序中未選擇」的申請專利範圍提出分割案申請,原則上遞件時「無須修正」,若要修正應該是申請後(或申請同時)提出的preliminary amendments。

歐洲專利:
歐洲專利的分割案沒有不一樣的地方,但是由於都是架構在case law,仍可以就當中的案例討論(應該要挑幾個來討論)。

提出歐洲分割申請案,常見也是因為在母案檢索階段接獲「不符單一性規定」的官方意見(OA, 或稱communication),有些請求項並未列入檢索(或是未被選擇要審查)的對象中,日後,申請人可針對這部分申請專利範圍提出分割申請案。

歐洲分割申請案自然不能超出原母案揭露內容,分割案提出時可以一併修正,不能超出原內容。

歐洲申請案的修正規定在Art. 123 EPC,EPO至少提供一次讓申請人主動修正的機會,包括提出分割申請案時,這時可以依照規定,在不超出專利內容的條件下擴大專利範圍,一旦獲准就不能修正擴大範圍了。

Article 123 Amendments (http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/epc/2016/e/ar123.html)
(1)
The European patent application or European patent may be amended in proceedings before the European Patent Office, in accordance with the Implementing Regulations. In any event, the applicant shall be given at least one opportunity to amend the application of his own volition. 
(2)
The European patent application or European patent may not be amended in such a way that it contains subject-matter which extends beyond the content of the application as filed. 
(3)
The European patent may not be amended in such a way as to extend the protection it confers. 

Article 76 European divisional applications (http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/epc/2016/e/ar76.html)
(1)
A European divisional application shall be filed directly with the European Patent Office in accordance with the Implementing Regulations. It may be filed only in respect of subject-matter which does not extend beyond the content of the earlier application as filed; in so far as this requirement is complied with, the divisional application shall be deemed to have been filed on the date of filing of the earlier application and shall enjoy any right of priority. 
(2)
All the Contracting States designated in the earlier application at the time of filing of a European divisional application shall be deemed to be designated in the divisional application. 

參考連結:
http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/caselaw/2016/e/clr_ii_f_2_2.htm

[法條,以下保留case law連結]
2.2.
Amendments to divisional applications
Divisional applications are new applications which are separate and independent from the earlier applications. Amendments to a divisional application are thus allowed under Art. 123(2) EPC to the same extent as amendments of any other non-divisional application (G 1/05, OJ 2008, 271, points 9.1-9.2 of the Reasons).
Amendments may be allowed even if the divisional application as filed contains – contrary to Art. 76(1), second sentence, first half sentence, EPC – subject-matter extending beyond the earlier application as filed. Such a divisional application is not to be considered "invalid" (G 1/05, OJ 2008, 271, point 2.9 of the Reasons). It may still be amended during examination proceedings so that it complies with the requirements of Art. 76(1) EPC, provided always, however, that the amendment complies with the other requirements of the EPC (see G 1/05, OJ 2008, 271, point 7 of the Reasons). Even if the earlier application is no longer pending, it remains possible to amend a divisional application to bring it in line with the requirements of Art. 76(1) EPC (G 1/05, OJ 2008, 271, points 8.1-8.2 of the Reasons).
If a divisional application is amended, it must meet both the requirements of Art. 76(1) EPC and those of Art. 123(2) EPC, so as to preclude the introduction of new subject-matter into the examination proceedings (see, among many others, 284/85441/92873/94OJ 1997, 4561221/971008/99561/00402/00423/03).
連結:http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/guidelines/e/c_ix_1_4.htm

1.4
Examination of a divisional application 
The substantive examination of a divisional application should in principle be carried out as for any other application but the following special points need to be considered. The claims of a divisional application need not be limited to subject-matter already claimed in claims of the parent application. Furthermore, no abuse of the system of divisional applications can be identified in the mere fact that the claims of the application on which the Examining Division had then to decide had a broader scope than the claims granted in relation with the parent application (see T 422/07).
......


資料參考:USPTO, EPO, bitlaw.com

my two cents:
若名為「分割申請案」,但又想修正專利範圍或是內容(誤繕與澄清為由),名正言順的話,應該是提出「延續申請案(CA)」。

另一種方式,大概就在提出分割申請案之後,在OA答辯過程「調整」到想要的範圍,或是在接獲第一次OA之前提出初步修正(preliminary amendments)。

分割申請案的初步修正討論:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2016/04/blog-post_4.html

其他參考(這類議題總是值得討論的議題,而類似以下的連結只會多不會少):


(本篇提到一些策略,如:
"短期策略,這發生在有一專利申請案中的較廣範圍遭遇核駁,但可能其下位技術可以獲准,或是很有希望透過限縮獲准,但是卻又不想放棄較廣範圍的專利,於是,可以在接獲核駁意見後法定期限內(3-6個月)提出CA案,CA案主要範圍是母案中可以獲准(或可能經限縮而可獲准的)的範圍,為的是先拿到一個專利(可能比較貼近實際產品);為了取得具有侵略性的專利,母案則繼續答辯,期待獲准另一個範圍更廣的專利。

長期策略,有價值的專利佈局通常是多面相的專利保護佈局,比如以多個角度去界定一個技術(產品),讓專利相關技術不容易被迴避,因此價值可以更高。於是母案(可為多種母案、多個provisional applications)所涵蓋技術特徵應該多樣、豐富,使得延續案操作的角度更有彈性。這樣的專利佈局有利於授權、保護授權廠商利益、建立技術門檻、涵蓋更多的可能侵權者(上下游),自然也提高授權金或買賣金額。"


順便補充一下我國分割案修正的時機,審查前後有所不同,內容來自:https://www.tipo.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=504223&ctNode=7633&mp=1

專利案申請分割時,原申請案為分割而同時進行的修正,也要受到期間限制嗎?
答:分割申請時,若原申請案(母案)因分割而需修正,該修正於審定前均得為之。惟分割後,原申請案(母案)及分割案(子案)之修正,則有期限限制。即發明(設計)必須在申請人於本局發給審查意見通知前,提出修正。於本局發給審查意見通知後,僅得於該通知指定之期間內提出修正;申請人於初審核駁審定後,提出再審查時,於本局發給再審查意見通知前,仍得提出修正。惟於本局發給再審查意見通知後,僅得於該通知指定之期間內提出修正(專利法第43條第3項、專利法第142條準用專利法第43條第3項)。

Ron

2017年9月29日 星期五

怎麼以BRI解釋「BODY」 - In re Smith Int’l (Fed. Cir. 2017)

本篇討論解釋專利範圍的議題,解釋時應參考說明書作出最廣且合理的解釋("broadest  reasonable interpretation"),但卻不能是最廣且可能的解釋("broadest possible interpretation")。

In re Smith Int’l (Fed. Cir. 2017)案件資訊:
上訴人:IN RE: SMITH INTERNATIONAL, INC.
系爭專利:US6,732,817

本案緣起PTAB同意USPTO審查委員於再審(re-examination)程序中作出專利無效的決定,專利權人不服,上訴CAFC。

系爭專利US6,732,817關於一種鑽井工具,為可擴充的擴孔器(underreamer),並用安定的功能,裝置在鑽孔部件到一定程度時,可移動手臂,其中可流動流體,折疊去適應不同大小的孔徑,進行擴孔的工作。根據Claim 1內容,這個鑽井工具為在井筒內的鑽孔部件,包括有管狀體,其中有可以流動流體的結構,包括有可移動臂,可以因應壓差而移動。

1. An expandable downhole tool for use in a drilling assembly positioned within a wellbore, comprising:
tubular body including at least one axial recess, a plurality of angled channels formed into a wall of said at least one axial recess, and an axial flowbore extending therethrough; and
at least one moveable arm;
wherein said at least one moveable arm translates along said plurality of angled channels between a collapsed position and an expanded position in response to a differential pressure between said axial flowbore and said wellbore.

爭議中的Claim 28界定的可擴充鑽井工具包括有「BODY」,以及可以根據井孔徑改變的可移動手臂。

28. An expandable downhole tool for use in a drilling assembly positioned within a wellbore having an original diameter borehole and an enlarged diameter borehole, comprising:
a body; and
at least one non-pivotable, moveable arm having at least one borehole engaging pad adapted to accommodate cutting structures or wear structures or a combination thereof;
wherein said at least one arm is moveable between a first position defining a collapsed diameter, and a second position defining an expanded diameter approximately equal to said enlarged diameter borehole.

主要爭議在於,解釋專利範圍時要用多廣的範圍來解釋其中元件,如Claim 28中的「BODY」,請求項中對此元件並未有進一步描述,其中就專利說明書而言,這個BODY明顯為鑽孔工具的"主體",卻非一個人的"身體"。如系爭專利說明書提到的「筒身(tubular body)」、圓柱體工具主體(cylindrical tool body)、以及具有流體孔的筒身(body with a flowbore therethrough in fluid communication with the wellbore annulus),大概都是描述510這個元件,解釋時還不至於無限上綱到其他東西上。

但就是有人會從中找到話題。

不過,就此元件「BODY」來說,仍留下一定程度的「廣泛」解釋空間,比如BODY中到底有哪些,就說明書而言,多處指向「BODY 510」這個元件,應該是「圓筒形筒身」;卻也好像是指整個鑽孔工具,但請求項又區分出「BODY」以及「Moveable Arm」兩個元件,所以合理來說,「BODY」可能是包括了除了「moveable arm」以外的鑽孔工具的其他元件


若以最廣且合理解釋(BRI)原則解釋專利範圍,用上述"「BODY」包括了除了「moveable arm」以外的鑽孔工具的其他元件"來解釋「body」(“the overall portion or portions of the downhole tool that define the bore and may include one or more other elements.”),USPTO與PTAB就能夠輕易地找到前案對比其中元件而駁回專利,只要有前案被涵蓋到「body」的解釋中,「下位」的先前技術就可以用來核駁「上位」的後申請案。

"In reexaminations, the Board gives claim terms their broadest reasonable interpretation in light of the claim language and specification. In re Yamamoto, 740 F.2d 1569, 1571 (Fed. Cir. 1984)."

先前技術Eddison:


PTAB同意USPTO意見:



真的可以這麼廣嗎?案件上訴到CAFC,法官有些不同意見。

根據判決書,CAFC法官對於PTAB針對「BODY」的解釋,認為,即便可以採用最廣且合理的原則(BRI)解釋專利範圍,但"不能合理地廣",至少不能誤解到脫離了專利說明書與相關記錄的意思。

根據請求項28,「BODY」沒有多餘的解釋,但說明書也沒有說這是一般的BODY,而是描述這個BODY是整個裝置的一個元件,可以區隔其他元件(如mandrel, piston, and drive ring),而非涵蓋到其他元件的BODY,因此認為USPTO與PTAB在此元件的解釋是錯的

這裡法官給了一個有點"廣泛"的解釋原則:

參照說明書並以最廣且合理解釋專利範圍,並非是以說明書排除其他廣泛的解釋,也不是解釋到與說明書不一致的情況,解釋是要對應到發明人在說明書描述的發明("it is an interpretation that corresponds with what and how the inventor describes his invention in the specification"),也就是,解釋專利範圍(元件)時,要與說明書一致。


雖然PTAB認為發明人並未在說明書定義何謂BODY,說明書也沒有不允許作出所謂合理的解釋,但CAFC法官認為,這個態度可能導致解釋專利範圍時作出「最廣而可能的解釋("broadest possible interpretation"),這樣是不適當的。

法官最後認為,系爭專利說明書分別描述了「body」、「moveable arms」、「mandrel」、「piston」與「drive ring」等元件,這並不支持PTAB的最廣解釋,因為這個基礎錯誤,使得其他PTAB的結論也是錯的。

my two cents:
當解釋專利範圍有錯時,將影響全盤皆墨的結果,CAFC法官常用這個原則全盤否決所作出可能是正確的結論(前案Eddison仍可能是駁回系爭專利的證據),因此,基礎(解釋專利範圍)在專利爭議中是太重要的事了。

一般專利案審查時不曉得落到誰的手中,有點運氣成份,有人就會很為申請人著想,有人就是會比較刁鑽地找事做,不過應該都沒有錯,都有一定的"合理"成份,於是,專利申請人/發明人/專利工程師就要在「自保」的原則上撰寫專利說明書,有一定程度的「明確性」總是不會錯的。

像台灣審查委員不太喜歡「A system, comprising」這種寫法,所以就盡量讓它完整一點,如「A management system, comprising...」,或「A system for managing ..., comprising...」,對於專利範圍不會有影響的。

判決文:
http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/16-2303.Opinion.9-22-2017.1.PDF
(備份:https://app.box.com/s/ys3u2g2woav1qrb49u5wuyhjdmmhl7i8

資料參考:
https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/09/broadest-reasonable-construction.html

Ron