2017年1月2日 星期一

顯而易見性適格的前案、核駁意見以及答辯筆記

筆記

這是值得討論的議題,也感謝IH朋友ALEX的意見,我這裡做一些筆記。

雖pre-AIA也是有類似的情況,但變數在「誰先發明」的爭議。AIA之後,適格的前案就是以有效申請日(effective filing date)為依據,如果申請日或優先權日(包括延續案的母案申請日,若引用CIP新增內容,日期指CIP申請日)在系爭案的有效申請日之前,就應為適格的前案,但102(b)排除了相同發明人、共同發明人、合約等條件下的前案。

符合35 U.S.C. 103適格前案的條件:
(這部分曾經討論過:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2016/12/102a1102a2-mpep-70602a1.html

可以先參考MPEP 2141.01 SCOPE AND CONTENT OF THE PRIOR ART

其中第I節就有了清楚的指示:102規定下有效的先前技術就對103有效

I. PRIOR ART AVAILABLE UNDER 35 U.S.C. 102 IS AVAILABLE UNDER 35 U.S.C. 103
II. SUBSTANTIVE CONTENT OF THE PRIOR ART
III. CONTENT OF THE PRIOR ART IS DETERMINED AT THE TIME THE INVENTION WAS MADE TO AVOID HINDSIGHT

35U.S.C.102
102(a)(1)規定適格前案為在系爭發明有效申請日前已經專利、印刷公開品描述、公開使用、販售或其他公眾可知悉等公開的情況。
102(a)(2)涉及有效申請日較系爭發明有效申請日更早的先前技術的規定,可參考MPEP 2154.01(C),符合AIA 35 U.S.C.102(a)(2)的前案為其他發明人("name another inventor")的「美國專利文獻(美國專利、美國專利申請公開案、WIPO公開申請案)」,進一步地說,所述"name another inventor"為有任何差異的發明實體("any different in inventive entity"),如果是共同發明人,只要有一個發明人不同,即為不同發明實體,就是符合AIA 35 U.S.C.102(a)(2)的適格前案。除非符合102(b)(2)排除條款。也就是適格102(a)(2)的引證前案應為不同的發明實體(inventive entity)的美國專利文獻

(重要)MPEP 706.02(a)(1) 規範如何判斷適用102(a)(1)或102(a)(2)的核駁意見,這裡僅針對102(a)(2)。
  • 符合102(a)(2)的前案要件是:申請日或有效申請日比系爭專利的有效申請日更早的美國專利、美國專利申請案與國際申請案。
  • 這裡強調,即便(even if)前案的領證或公開日並不比系爭專利的有效申請日早(not before),此前案仍為符合35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2)的適格前案。("Even if the issue or publication date of the reference is not before the effective filing date of the claimed invention, the reference may still be applicable as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) if it was “effectively filed” before the effective filing date of the claimed invention with respect to the subject matter relied upon to reject the claim.")
MPEP 2141則是提出審查委員如何判斷顯而易見性的指導方針(EXAMINATION GUIDELINES FOR DETERMINING OBVIOUSNESS UNDER 35 U.S.C. 103)
  • 判斷美國專利請求項發明是否顯而易見,審查意見主要是基於KSR判例所衍生的審查方針。
  • 最高法院在KSR案中指出CAFC過於形式化使用傳統TSM(教示-建議-動機)測試,KSR的決定補強了過去的TSM原則,而提供了審查上的彈性。
  • CAFC對KSR的意見是:要求PTO應確認教示、建議或動機的證據,以組合這些證據,但不限制審查委員引用一般常識來判斷中間的關聯,而此「常識」並不要求基於特定參考文獻的暗示或建議,只要有合理的解釋以避免籠統的論述
    At the time [of the decision in In re Lee], we required the PTO to identify record evidence of a teaching, suggestion, or motivation to combine references because “[o]mission of a relevant factor required by precedent is both legal error and arbitrary agency action.” However, this did not preclude examiners from employing common sense. More recently [in DyStar Textilfarben GmbH v. C.H. Patrick Co., 464 F.3d 1356, 1366 (Fed.Cir. 2006)], we explained that use of common sense does not require a “specific hint or suggestion in a particular reference,” only a reasoned explanation that avoids conclusory generalizations.
  • 在KSR判例後,發明若為先前技術以已知方法組合後沒有超過可預設的結果時,則判為顯而易知("the combination of familiar elements according to known methods is likely to be obvious when it does no more than yield predictable results.")。
  • 在KSR判例後,發明的改善是否超越相同領域或不同領域組合的習知技術可以預期的功效,成為判斷顯而易見的依據,若相關技術人員可以實現其可預期的變化,則為顯而易見的技術。
  • 審查委員應明確解釋作出顯而易見核駁意見的理由,原則是:判斷前案內容、確認前案與系爭發明的差異、解析相關技術的一般技術水平,據此作出審查意見。
    (A) Determining the scope and content of the prior art; and
    (B) Ascertaining the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art; and
    (C) Resolving the level of ordinary skill in the pertinent art.
  • 支持顯而易見結論的合理理由:
    根據已知方法組合前案產生可預期的結果、已知元件的簡單替換而得到可預期的結果、以相同方法使用已知技術去改善相似的裝置、套用已知技術到已知裝置而改善產生可預期結果、"顯然可嘗試",也就是從有限數量的已確認與可預測方案中的選擇,並可合理可預期其成功在相關領域已知而提示使用相同領域或不同領域的的設計激勵或市場力量促使的可預期變化、前案中的教示、建議或動機而使得一般技術人員可以修改前案而或組合前案而達到系爭發明。
    (A) Combining prior art elements according to known methods to yield predictable results;
    (B) Simple substitution of one known element for another to obtain predictable results;
    (C) Use of known technique to improve similar devices (methods, or products) in the same way;
    (D) Applying a known technique to a known device (method, or product) ready for improvement to yield predictable results;
    (E) “Obvious to try” – choosing from a finite number of identified, predictable solutions, with a reasonable expectation of success;
    (F) Known work in one field of endeavor may prompt variations of it for use in either the same field or a different one based on design incentives or other market forces if the variations are predictable to one of ordinary skill in the art;
    (G) Some teaching, suggestion, or motivation in the prior art that would have led one of ordinary skill to modify the prior art reference or to combine prior art reference teachings to arrive at the claimed invention.
以上幾點為在MPEP 2141中指示審查委員如何在後KSR時期作出顯而易見的理由的指導方針。然而,其末段仍提出申請人如何回應這些審查意見。
  • 申請人可以針對審查委員作出的論述提出反駁意見。
  • 審查委員應考量申請人的反駁意見。
  • 反駁意見可能包括輔助性考量(secondary consideration):商業上成功(commercial success)、解決長期以來的問題(long felt but unsolved needs)、他人的失敗(failure of others)。
  • 提出「不可預期結果」的意見(證據)。
  • (重要)申請人可以據此答辯:
    相關領域一般技術人員不能以已知方法組合發明中的元件、系爭發明元件的組合並非僅執行每個元件分開的功能,或是系爭發明產生的結果不是可預期的結果。
    (A) one of ordinary skill in the art could not have combined the claimed elements by known methods (e.g., due to technological difficulties);
    (B) the elements in combination do not merely perform the function that each element performs separately; or
    (C) the results of the claimed combination were unexpected.

[法條]
35 U.S.C. 102   CONDITIONS FOR PATENTABILITY; NOVELTY.
(a) NOVELTY; PRIOR ART.—A person shall be entitled to a patent unless—
(1) the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention; or
(2) the claimed invention was described in a patent issued under section 151, or in an application for patent published or deemed published under section 122(b), in which the patent or application, as the case may be, names another inventor and was effectively filed before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.

35 U.S.C. 103   CONDITIONS FOR PATENTABILITY; NON-OBVIOUS SUBJECT MATTER
A patent for a claimed invention may not be obtained, notwithstanding that the claimed invention is not identically disclosed as set forth in section 102, if the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious before the effective filing date of the claimed invention to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains. Patentability shall not be negated by the manner in which the invention was made.

MPEP 2154.01(C) REQUIREMENT OF “NAMES ANOTHER INVENTOR”
To qualify as prior art under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2), the prior art U.S. patent, U.S. patent application publication, or WIPO published application (“U.S. patent document”) must “name[ ] another inventor.” This means that if there is any difference in inventive entity between the prior art U.S. patent document and the application under examination or patent under reexamination, the U.S. patent document satisfies the “names another inventor” requirement of AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). Thus, in the case of joint inventors, only one joint inventor needs to be different for the inventive entities to be different. Even if there are one or more joint inventors in common in a U.S. patent document and the later-filed application under examination or patent under reexamination, the U.S. patent document qualifies as prior art under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) unless an exception in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2) is applicable.

MPEP 706.02(a)(1) Determining Whether To Apply 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) or 102(a)(2)

I.35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1)
(忽略)

II.35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2)
First, the examiner should consider whether the reference qualifies as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). Next the examiner must determine if any exceptions in 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2) apply.

U.S. patents, U.S. patent applications published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b), and international patent applications published under the Patent Cooperation Treaty to another are prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) if the filing or effective filing date of the disclosure of the reference is before the effective filing date of the claimed invention. Even if the issue or publication date of the reference is not before the effective filing date of the claimed invention, the reference may still be applicable as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) if it was “effectively filed” before the effective filing date of the claimed invention with respect to the subject matter relied upon to reject the claim. MPEP § 2152.01 discusses the “effective filing date” of a claimed invention. 35 U.S.C. 102(d) sets forth the criteria to determine when subject matter described in a U.S. patent, U.S. patent application publication, or WIPO published application was “effectively filed” for purposes of 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). See MPEP § 2154.


Potential references may be disqualified as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) by the three exception provisions of 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2). 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(A) limits the use of an inventor’s own work as prior art, when the inventor’s own work is disclosed in a U.S. patent, U.S. patent application publication, or WIPO published application by another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor. 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B) disqualifies subject matter that was effectively filed by another after the subject matter had been publicly disclosed by the inventor, a joint inventor, or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor. 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) disqualifies subject matter disclosed in a U.S. patent, U.S. patent application publication, or WIPO published application from constituting prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) if the subject matter disclosed and the claimed invention, not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention, “were owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.” 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) resembles pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) in that both concern common ownership, and both offer an avenue by which an applicant may avoid certain prior art. However, there are significant differences between 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) and pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). See MPEP § 2154.02(b).

補充資料:


Ron

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