2017年2月24日 星期五

供應國外生產的多元件侵權產品的單一元件不構成侵害271(f)(1) - Life Technologies Corp. v. Promega Corp. (Supreme Court 2017)

前言:
多數進入法院的專利爭議都是圍繞在「專利侵權」,其他不小的爭議在「專利的獲准」,但是這類議題多數可以在USPTO、PTAB解決。於是,不論是專利從業人員、發明人、申請人、被授權人,或是製造、貿易商,甚至是消費者,法院如何認定「侵權」都是我們應該學習的課題。

本部落格曾經報導專利侵權的型態(侵權比對分析筆記,http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/09/blog-post_12.html):

根據美國專利法,侵權的型態有:
直接侵權(Direct Infringement 35 U.S.C. 271(a)),涵蓋未經授權製造、使用、販售、提供販售、進口任何已專利之發明(中華民國專利法第58條:[排他權]...物之發明...製造、為販賣之要約、販賣、使用或為上述目的而進口該物之行為...;方法發明...使用該方法、使用、為販賣之要約、販賣或為上述目的而進口該方法直接製成之物)。
引誘侵權(Inducement to Infringement 35 U.S.C. 271(b)),主動引誘侵權。
共同侵權(Contributory Infringement 35 U.S.C. 271(c)),販售已專利機器、製造、成份的組成、使用專利程序的裝置、發明部份的材料,知道其為製造專利物品,而非用於非侵權的使用,列為共同侵權者。
製程侵權(Process Patent Infringement 35 U.S.C. 271(g)),未經授權而進口、供應販售、販售或使用根據專利製程製作的物品。

在專利可以管轄的範圍內,符合以上幾種侵權型態的行為都應該是違反專利法的行為。不過,有些被委託製造、販售、進出口的"疑似參與侵權者"可能就會有點"無辜"(應就事實認定),這次,美國最高法院於今年2月作出「共同侵權/輔助侵權(contributory infringement)」頗為限制的判決可能有讓"在美國製造的代工者"鬆一口氣的感覺。

本案例過去歷史Life Technologies Corp. v. Promega Corp. (Supreme Court 2017)):
雙方:LIFE TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION, ET AL., PETITIONERS v. PROMEGA CORPORATION
系爭專利:RE37984

PROMEGA CORPORATION是個生技公司,經營生物銀行;這兩間公司有不少訴訟爭議,LIFE TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION也是一間生技公司,產品涉及生物檢測、幹細胞、基因檢測,也有跟運動健身有關生活科學軟硬體設備。

案例討論:
此案例涉及美國專利法第271條專利侵權的規定中,第(f)段,如果有未經授權的產品的全部或一部分使用了某美國專利,則涉及侵權;未經授權而提供製造或使用時,若不是非侵權用途,即便是在國外組合,仍是涉及侵權。
35 U.S.C. 271, Infringement of patent
271(f)
(1) Whoever without authority supplies or causes to be supplied in or from the United States all or a substantial portion of the components of a patented invention, where such components are uncombined in whole or in part, in such manner as to actively induce the combination of such components outside of the United States in a manner that would infringe the patent if such combination occurred within the United States, shall be liable as an infringer.
(2) Whoever without authority supplies or causes to be supplied in or from the United States any component of a patented invention that is especially made or especially adapted for use in the invention and not a staple article or commodity of commerce suitable for substantial noninfringing use, where such component is uncombined in whole or in part, knowing that such component is so made or adapted and intending that such component will be combined outside of the United States in a manner that would infringe the patent if such combination occurred within the United States, shall be liable as an infringer.


("涉及的法條:35 U.S.C. 271(f)
這裡規範在美國組合具有專利保護的元件的侵權行為。(1)使用沒有經授權供應或要求供應專利保護(美國專利)的元件,若為「主動誘導("actively induce ")」在美國境內組合元件(updated on Dec. 6, 2017, would infringe the patents if such combination occurred within the United States...),而這些組合後的物品在美國國境內,這些人視為侵權者。(2)未經授權提供專利技術的部分元件,若這些元件就是特別為了專利中的發明所製造,而沒有實質不侵權的其他用途,更意欲("intending")在美國境外組合,怎些組合物進入美國後,這些人仍視為侵權者。")

雙方的爭點在過去的報導中甚至"貢獻"了「開放式專利範圍解讀」的討論:

--開放式專利範圍與可實施性間的問題 - Promega v. Life Tech. (Fed. Cir. 2014)案例討論(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/12/promega-v-life-tech-fed-cir-2014.html

此案在最高法院之前的爭議可見於本部落格文章,多數涉及雙方在權利轉換後產生的爭議,其實頗為複雜,我也曾經整理過:

--被授權對象經併購與權利轉換成為專利權人的權利金爭議 - Life Technologies Corp. v. Promega Corp (2012, CAFC)(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2016/07/life-technologies-corp-v-promega-corp.html

本次最高法院意見:
議題:提供「多元件」的專利產品中的某「單一在美國境外製造的元件」的供應商是否承擔侵權責任?

先講本次最高法院作出駁回的決定:其實只是單純議題不符35U.S.C.271(f)(1)而駁回,不過從過程算是可以得到一些學習。
"We hold that a single component does not constitute a substantial portion of the components that can give rise to liability under §271(f )(1). Because only a single component of the patented invention at issue here was supplied from the United States, we reverse and remand."

§271(f )(1)
(1) Whoever without authority supplies or causes to be supplied in or from the United States all or a substantial portion of the components of a patented invention, where such components are uncombined in whole or in part, in such manner as to actively induce the combination of such components outside of the United States in a manner that would infringe the patent if such combination occurred within the United States, shall be liable as an infringer.

系爭專利RE37984主要元件:
(1) a mixture of primers that mark the part of the DNA strand to be copied; (2)nucleotides for forming replicated strands of DNA; (3) an enzyme known as Taq polymerase; (4) a buffer solution forthe amplification; and (5) control DNA.

可對照claim 42:
42. A kit for analyzing polymorphism in at least one locus in an DNA sample, comprising:
a) at least one vessel containing a mixture of primers constituting between 1 and 50 of said primer pairs;
b) a vessel containing a polymerizing enzyme suitable for performing a primer-directed polymerase chain reaction;
c) a vessel containing the deoxynucleotide triphosphates adenosine, guanine, cytosine and thymidine;
d) a vessel containing a buffer solution for performing a polymerase chain reaction;
e) a vessel containing a template DNA comprising i) a simple or cryptically simple nucleotide sequence having a repeat motif length of 3 to 10 nucleotides and ii) nucleotide sequences flanking said simple or cryptically simple nucleotide sequence that are effective for annealing at least one pair of said primers, for assaying positive performance of the method.

爭議涉及系爭專利中「檢驗基因的工具包」,其中共有5個元件,其中有4個元件在英國製造,美國管不到,但被告Life Technologies在美國製造了其中一個元件(Taq polymerase),再運送(販售)到英國組裝。專利權人PromegaLife Technologies提告,認為Life Technologies違反上述專利法第271(f)(1)條,針對其中「境組裝(updated on Dec. 6, 2017)」的規定。

原本在地院判決認為271(f)(1)中的"all or a substantial portion"並未使得提供多元件發明的單一元件侵權成立。不過CAFC認為Life Technologies所販售的「Tag polymerase」為271(f)(1)規定的"substantial portion"(這樣可能是解釋為"重要的部分",而非"數量"),侵權成立。

最高法院解讀35U.S.C.271(f)(1)時,提到其中"substantial portion",雖沒有定義"substantial",但最高法院認為是指"定量的量測"("quantitative measurement"),字面的一般意思是:重要的量,或是大量("either to qualitative importance or to quantitatively large size"),而前後字"all"與"portion"則是給予一個"量"的意義。

於是,在此解釋下,可以認定271(f)(1)中的"substantial portion"解釋為「大量」或「多的」,而不像是「重要的部分」,因此法院認定所述"單一元件"("single component")並不構成271(f)(1)中的"substantial portion",理由是單一元件並非271(f)(1)指的"多量"

如此,最高法院認為,這樣解釋35U.S.C.271(f)(1)也合理帶出35U.S.C.271(f)(2),之所有要有(1)與(2),就是兩者在原立法解釋應該有差異。


接著提到35U.S.C.271(f)的立法歷史,其目的就是要平衡專利權不及於境外組裝的侵權產品的問題,而分開寫為35U.S.C.271(f)(1)35U.S.C.271(f)(2)確實有差異以及意義。


最後認為,本次爭議中的系爭專利發明物品是在境外組合全部的元件,其中被告侵權者供應的"單一元件"是在國外組合,並不構成35U.S.C.271(f)(1)法條解釋下的侵權行為

最高法院判決:

在國外製造的「多元件發明的其中之一元件」並不承擔271(f)(1)的侵權責任。
"The supply of a single component of a multicomponent invention for manufacture abroad does not give rise to §271(f)(1) liability."

最高法院意見:https://app.box.com/s/npjb55lbxncyau7k4gemrkqgfzbaavum(備份)

my two cents:
不僅是我們對法條規定的文字有解釋的困擾,顯然即便是美國的上下級法院,都對相同法條文字有不同的解釋,這大約就是這些議題有趣的原因。

本次案例,不曉得影響多大,至少最高法院明確解釋了35U.S.C.271(f)的意思,而最終意見是「「多元件發明的其中之一元件」並不承擔271(f)(1)的侵權責任」,但這是因為文字上的解讀下認為不符法條定義的侵權行為,卻沒有說在任一法條下都是不侵權。例如,未考慮§271(f)(2),最高法院意見中有此暗示。

資料參考:http://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/02/contributory-liability-exports.html

一些中文資料參考:http://iknow.stpi.narl.org.tw/Post/Read.aspx?PostID=12608
國外的討論:http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2016/07/07/life-technologies-promega-supreme-court/id=70638/

Ron

選擇發明 - 歐洲審查基準

筆記

本篇源自歐洲審查基準Part G, Chapter VI, 8. Selection inventions(選擇發明)的規定。

選擇發明(Selection inventions)的寫法是要處理請求項中關於個別元件的選擇(selection of individual elements)、子集(sub-sets)或子範圍(sub-ranges)的技術特徵。

-- 個別元件的選擇(selection of individual elements)(歐洲訴願案T 12/81(德文,在此不研究)):
討論到選擇發明的「新穎性」問題,要檢視所選擇的元件是否是以個別的形式揭露在現有技術中?
從已經揭露於前案的元件列表的選擇不具新穎性;
反之,從兩個或以上的已知選項中選擇,而形成特徵的組合未揭露於前案中,具有新穎性。

-- 子集(sub-sets)與子範圍(sub-ranges)類似,為由前案揭露較廣的範圍中選擇其中較小範圍,可視為具有新穎性(歐洲訴願案T 198/84 and T 279/89),只要(新穎性條件):
(a)選擇的子範圍筆已知範圍更窄;
(b)選擇的子範圍與現有技術的範圍實質偏離;
(c)選擇的範圍並非前案的任意範圍選擇,而是另外的發明。(就是後案不能就只是選擇較小範圍而沒有技術思想,選擇的子範圍需要有技術效果,才能具有新穎性)

-- 重疊範圍(overlapping ranges)的發明,如數值上的重疊,或是化學成份的重疊,這可看相關領域技術人員可否從已知前案中可以教示發明所選擇的範圍,如果範圍的終點與中間值已被已知技術揭露,都不具新穎性。當中若有新的技術元件,則具有新穎性。

另需考量進步性(inventiveness),這如一般原則,可由相關領域技術人員以現有技術為基礎,可以成功合理的期待而能嘗試發明與前案的技術差異,不具進步性。


[法條參考]
8. Selection inventions 
Selection inventions deal with the selection of individual elements, sub-sets, or sub-ranges, which have not been explicitly mentioned, within a larger known set or range.
(i)
In determining the novelty of a selection, it has to be decided, whether the selected elements are disclosed in an individualised (concrete) form in the prior art (see T 12/81). A selection from a single list of specifically disclosed elements does not confer novelty. However, if a selection from two or more lists of a certain length has to be made in order to arrive at a specific combination of features then the resulting combination of features, not specifically disclosed in the prior art, confers novelty (the "two-lists principle"). Examples of such selections from two or more lists are the selection of:
(a)
individual chemical compounds from a known generic formula whereby the compound selected results from the selection of specific substituents from two or more "lists" of substituents given in the known generic formula. The same applies to specific mixtures resulting from the selection of individual components from lists of components making up the prior art mixture; 
(b)
starting materials for the manufacture of a final product; 
(c)
sub-ranges of several parameters from corresponding known ranges. 
(ii)
A sub-range selected from a broader numerical range of the prior art is considered novel, if each of the following three criteria is satisfied (see T 198/84 and T 279/89):
(a)
the selected sub-range is narrow compared to the known range; 
(b)
the selected sub-range is sufficiently far removed from any specific examples disclosed in the prior art and from the end-points of the known range; 
(c)
the selected range is not an arbitrary specimen of the prior art, i.e. not a mere embodiment of the prior art, but another invention (purposive selection, new technical teaching). 
An effect occurring only in the claimed sub-range cannot in itself confer novelty on that sub-range. However, such a technical effect occurring in the selected sub-range, but not in the whole of the known range, can confirm that criterion (c) is met, i.e. that the invention is novel and not merely a specimen of the prior art. The meaning of "narrow" and "sufficiently far removed" has to be decided on a case-by-case basis. The new technical effect occurring within the selected range may also be the same effect as that attained with the broader known range, but to a greater extent.
Ron

2017年2月23日 星期四

撤回領證案 - MPEP 1308

筆記

甚麼情況下已領證專利會被撤回?

MPEP 130837 CFR 1.313可知幾個情況:

一、申請人主動撤回
對於已經繳付領證費的專利申請案,申請人可以提出請願(petition)要求撤銷(下架),並需要提出充分的理由(如下),還有費用(請願費用現行如下)。如果在繳費前,可以在繳費期限內請求接續審查(指RCE)就不用提出請願了

兩個情況:核准通知後,領證費用繳費前、繳費後。

繳交領證費前,申請人可以透過提出請願、接續審查(RCE),並可伴隨IDS或是修正。這時,依照申請人佈局,也是提出接續案的時機(continuing application)。

繳交領證費後,申請人應透過請願(petition)程序要求撤回領證專利,伴隨著請願的條件是:指出核准專利的重要缺陷,如以下請願理由。

請願理由:
(1)一或多個權利項不具專利性,並可提出修正,並說明這些修正可讓請求項具有專利性理由;
(2)考慮RCE;或者
(3)表示要拋棄申請案。(佈局策略上這可以是為了要reopen申請案後,提出其他接續案)
  • (1) Unpatentability of one of more claims, which petition must be accompanied by an unequivocal statement that one or more claims are unpatentable, an amendment to such claim or claims, and an explanation as to how the amendment causes such claim or claims to be patentable;
  • (2) Consideration of a request for continued examination in compliance with § 1.114; or
  • (3) Express abandonment of the application. Such express abandonment may be in favor of a continuing application.

請願費用(Petitions requiring the petition fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(h) (Group III)):
By a micro entity (§ 1.29)......$35.00
By a small entity (§ 1.27(a))......$70.00
By other than a small or micro entity......$140.00

可以對照現行領證費用(Utility issue fee):
大實體:960.00;小實體:480.00;微實體:240.00

二、USPTO撤回,USPTO其實不會撤回已經繳付領證的申請案,除非(反過來說,USPTO可基於某些因素撤銷專利權):
(1)專利局有疏失;
(2)違反37 CFR 1.56(Duty to disclose information material to patentability),也就是發現申請人違反提出影響專利性的資訊揭露義務,這些資訊揭露包括:外國專利局引用前案、影響專利權的資訊等等;
(3)一或多項專利範圍不具專利性;或者
(4)面對牴觸程序(interference)或是申請人調查程序/派生(derivation proceeding)。

    • (1) A mistake on the part of the Office;
    • (2) A violation of § 1.56 or illegality in the application;
    • (3) Unpatentability of one or more claims; or
    • (4) For interference or derivation proceeding.

後續:
經撤回領證的專利申請案,若又再次核准,USPTO會重新發出核准通知。

如果申請人/專利權人在之前領證時已經繳付領證費,是否可以退費?
這裡提到可以退費,也可以暫存於某個戶頭中用於下次費用。

[相關法條摘錄]
MPEP 1308 WITHDRAWAL FROM ISSUE

I.WITHDRAWAL FROM ISSUE AT THE INITIATIVE OF THE APPLICANT
A.Prior to the Payment of Issue Fee
If the applicant wishes to have an application withdrawn from issue, he or she must petition the Director under 37 CFR 1.313(a) or file a request for continued examination (RCE) under 37 CFR 1.114 with a submission and the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(e). A submission may be an information disclosure statement (37 CFR 1.97 and 1.98) or an amendment. The RCE practice does not apply to utility or plant applications filed before June 8, 1995 and design applications. See MPEP § 706.07(h), subsections I, II and IX. If an applicant files a RCE (with the fee and a submission), the applicant need not pay the issue fee to avoid abandonment of the application. Applicants are cautioned against filing a RCE prior to payment of the issue fee and subsequently paying the issue fee (before the Office acts on the RCE) because doing so may result in issuance of a patent without consideration of the RCE (if the RCE is not matched with the application before the application is processed into a patent).
II.WITHDRAWAL FROM ISSUE AT THE INITIATIVE OF THE OFFICE
Once the issue fee is paid, withdrawal is permitted only for the reasons stated in 37 CFR 1.313(c). The status of the application at the time the petition is filed is determinative of whether the petition is considered under 37 CFR 1.313(a) or 37 CFR 1.313(c). Petitions under 37 CFR 1.313(c) to have an application withdrawn after payment of the issue fee should be directed to the Office of Petitions (see MPEP § 1002.02(b)).
In addition to the specific reasons identified in 37 CFR 1.313(c)(1)-(3) applicant should identify some specific and significant defect in the allowed application before the application will be withdrawn from issue. A petition under 37 CFR 1.313(c) based on the reason specified in 37 CFR 1.313(c)(2) can only be filed in utility or plant applications filed on or after June 8, 1995 because the request for continued examination (RCE) practice does not apply to these types of applications filed before June 8, 1995 and design applications. See MPEP § 706.07(h), subsections I and IX. Such a petition under 37 CFR 1.313(c)(2) along with the petition fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(h) must include a request for continued examination in compliance with 37 CFR 1.114 (e.g., a submission and the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(e)). The continued prosecution application (CPA) practice under 37 CFR 1.53(d) only applies to design applications. SeeMPEP § 201.06(d). To withdraw from issue a utility or plant application, an applicant may wish to file a petition under 37 CFR 1.313(c)(2) with a RCE or under 37 CFR 1.313(c)(3) for the express abandonment of the application in favor of a continuing application under 37 CFR 1.53(b).

37 CFR 1.313  Withdrawal from issue.

  • (a) Applications may be withdrawn from issue for further action at the initiative of the Office or upon petition by the applicant. To request that the Office withdraw an application from issue, applicant must file a petition under this section including the fee set forth in § 1.17(h) and a showing of good and sufficient reasons why withdrawal of the application from issue is necessary. A petition under this section is not required if a request for continued examination under § 1.114 is filed prior to payment of the issue fee. If the Office withdraws the application from issue, the Office will issue a new notice of allowance if the Office again allows the application.
  • (b) Once the issue fee has been paid, the Office will not withdraw the application from issue at its own initiative for any reason except:
    • (1) A mistake on the part of the Office;
    • (2) A violation of § 1.56 or illegality in the application;
    • (3) Unpatentability of one or more claims; or
    • (4) For interference or derivation proceeding.
  • (c) Once the issue fee has been paid, the application will not be withdrawn from issue upon petition by the applicant for any reason except:
    • (1) Unpatentability of one of more claims, which petition must be accompanied by an unequivocal statement that one or more claims are unpatentable, an amendment to such claim or claims, and an explanation as to how the amendment causes such claim or claims to be patentable;
    • (2) Consideration of a request for continued examination in compliance with § 1.114; or
    • (3) Express abandonment of the application. Such express abandonment may be in favor of a continuing application.
  • (d) A petition under this section will not be effective to withdraw the application from issue unless it is actually received and granted by the appropriate officials before the date of issue. Withdrawal of an application from issue after payment of the issue fee may not be effective to avoid publication of application information.

MPEP 1308.01 Rejection After Allowance
...
If the issue fee has already been paid and prosecution is reopened, the applicant may request a refund or request that the fee be credited to a deposit account. However, applicant may wait until the application is either found allowable or held abandoned. If allowed, upon receipt of a new Notice of Allowance, applicant may request that the previously submitted issue fee be applied (the Notice of Allowance will reflect an issue fee amount that is due and the issue fee that was previously paid). See MPEP § 1306 regarding request to reapply a previously paid issue fee toward the issue fee that is now due in the same application. If abandoned, applicant may request refund or credit to a deposit account.

資料參考:
https://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/s1308.html

Ron

2017年2月22日 星期三

商標路線圖 - Jordan

商標您或許都懂,但應該這個會吸引你再看一次。這裡提到的是「約旦」的商標路線圖,但應該就是個通用的概念。

(影像來源:http://njq-ip.com

除了歐盟商標外,一般商標註冊比較不會是「登記制」,否則商業活動可能會亂。這裡提到的路線圖,一開始在商標申請後,將進行實際審查,並發出官方審查意見(office action),若是直接核准,或是經答覆後獲准商標,商標局即公開申請案。

商標公開後,給予各方三個月的異議期限,若無異議,或是異議後仍准予商標,即給予一定期限繳付費用後完成註冊。

若有異議,商標申請人需要接獲通知後一個月內回覆意見,之後商標局作出決定,若仍核准,即應於一個月內繳費後完成註冊。否則,商標申請人可以提出訴願,甚至在訴願不成後上訴到最高法院(supreme court)。

在商標實際審查後被駁回時,申請人針對商標不准意見於一個月內回覆意見,商標局再根據此意見作出決定,這部分可以有兩次(路線圖這樣寫),若申請人不服,可以提出訴願(可有兩次),最後可上訴到最高法院。

http://njq-ip.com/the-road-map-to-trademarks/?utm_source=NJQ+Mailing+List&utm_campaign=e57d7aa026-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_29&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6fa350b059-e57d7aa026-69367834&ct=t%28January_2017_Newsletter1_29_2017%29&goal=0_6fa350b059-e57d7aa026-69367834&mc_cid=e57d7aa026&mc_eid=46d02ec18a

資料來源:NJQ & Associates (http://njq-ip.com/)

另外補充,本篇來源所屬網站曾被反ISIS組織駭入,是這篇遲遲未出的理由。

Ron

2017年2月21日 星期二

專利範圍中前言、步驟順序與條件產生的問題 - Michael S. Sutton Ltd. v. Nokia Corp. (Dist. Court, ED Texas 2009)

本案有幾個議題可供參考,例如「前言」是否限制專利範圍?步驟順序是否為必要的限制?

另討論到「條件發明(conditional invention)」,其實很少人這樣講,我也是偶爾看到老外這樣稱呼,不過也算是中題。以下為相關案例(Michael S. Sutton Ltd. v. Nokia Corp. (Dist. Court, ED Texas 2009)),忘了是從哪裡得到的資訊,如果找回,會適當填回。

條件式的專利範圍撰寫方式可以是:
Ving...if...;
Ving...if...; and
Ving...if....

案例討論:
原告:MICHAEL S. SUTTON LIMITED
侵權被告:NOKIA CORPORATION and Nokia Inc.
系爭專利:US 5,771,238

本案是有上訴到CAFC,不過CAFC以Rule 36終止程序,CAFC同意地院意見。(Rule 36可參考:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2016/07/rule-36-cafc.html

系爭專利關於一種加強版單向電波7位元數據網路,這是一個處理呼叫器訊息的網路,以7位元單向傳遞電波,但是一般卻是以8位元傳遞文字碼(ASCII)與二進位檔,也用以傳遞設定指令,因此文字與二進位檔需要經過處理後才能透過7位元網路傳遞,系爭專利就是處理這個技術,如此,在請求項中使用"if"等條件判斷雖非必要(後見之明),但也頗為合理。

Claim 1:
1. A method of preparing a message packet for digital data transmission which enables eight bit data, binary data and control messages to be encapsulated in a 7 bit character packet where one or more of the 7 bit characters are prohibited comprising the steps of:
(1) analysing a message to be transmitted to ascertain if it is a control message or a data message,
(2) if a data message,
(a) analysing it to determine if it can be compressed according to a known compression technique and if so compressing the data by that technique,
(b) if compression was not possible, and if the data consists of characters which are uniquely determined by 7 bits, treating the data as a 7 bit character string and stuffing the 7 bit character string into an 8 bit string,
(c) assigning a sub-channel number to data which is processed according to steps 2(a) or (b) or which has not been so processed,
(3) assembling the message packet which incorporates
(a) framing information which includes bits which indicate whether the packet is control data or message data,
(b) information indicative of assigned sub-channel where the message is a data message, and
(c) the control data or
(d) the compressed, stuffed or unoptimised message data,
(4) unpacking the packet from 8 bit bytes to form a 7 bit byte packet,
(5) analysing the 7 bit byte packet to ascertain if it contains any prohibited characters and if so substituting such prohibited characters with a suitable escape character and a complementary check character to produce the message packet for transmission.

Claim 3:
3. A method of receiving an incoming encoded binary message having packets transmitted over a paging network by a selective call receiver which enables the message receiver to receive at a single network address, unmodified paging messages and to selectively accept or reject eight bit data information messages and encoded control messages as well as being able to accept or reject data information messages specified for a specific subchannel (0-255) for which the receiver respectively is or is not currently authorised to accept; for each received packet of an incoming message the method comprising the steps of:
(1) if the received packet has a predetermined header and the receiver is configured to receive unmodified messages, then processing the packet as a modified packet according to steps (2) to (8), otherwise sending the packet to a user's application as an unmodified paging message,
(2) if the receiver is configured to receive only data information messages processing the packet according to steps (3) to (8),
(3) treating the packet as 7 bit characters and reconstituting any characters indicated by a predetermined flag,
(4) packing the 7 bit characters into 8 bit characters,
(5) checking a frame byte for type of packet and compression,
(6) decompressing the packet to data,
(7) validating the subchannel and if valid releasing security passing the data to an end user application, and
(8) if the message is a control message parsing and processing the control message.

在此案例中,原告SuttonNokia提出侵權告訴,Nokia反過來提出系爭專利不明確、不能據以實施等實用性的專利無效意見,法院同意審理Nokia意見,並判定專利範圍無效。

解釋專利範圍(claim construction)時,法院引用內部證據,包括說明書與專利審查歷史,並以一般文字意義解釋請求項發明。這裡即採用前例的標準:合理解釋專利範圍的案例 - Phillips v. AWH Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2005)http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2015/05/phillips-v-awh-corp-fed-cir-2005.html)。

針對專利範圍,有幾個爭點。

議題一:前言
專利權人認為申請專利範圍的前言僅是描述技術目的與其意欲的用途(這是美國觀點,但case-by-case),而被告Nokia則主張前言為專利範圍的一部分(這比較歐洲一點)。法院採用的原則是:如果前言實際涉及技術本身,將成為限制,如果僅是描述技術目的與用途,則不會成為限制

"A preamble is generally construed as a limitation if it recites essential structure or steps or if it is necessary to give life, meaning, or vitality to the claim."

"On the other hand, a preamble is not limiting where a patentee defines a structurally complete invention in the claim body and the preamble is merely used to state a purpose or intended use to the invention."

有關「前言」的效力可參考過去報導:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2013/11/mpep-211102about-claims.htmlhttp://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/07/blog-post_5.html

就本案例而言,申請專利範圍「前言」形成了專利範圍的「前述基礎」,顯然影響了專利範圍,因此被列入限制條件。

議題二:步驟的順序
當專利範圍由步驟描述,「步驟順序」將會成為一個爭議。在本案中,Nokia主張順序就如請求項的描述,不能變動,Sutton則表示專利步驟可以任何順序實施。以下為法院態度:

"Generally, "although a method claim necessarily recites the steps of the method in a particular order, as a general rule the claim is not limited to performance of the steps in the order recited, unless the claim explicitly or implicitly requires a specific order."

"However, the specification or prosecution history may also require a narrower, order-specific construction of a method claim in some cases."

就本案例而言,申請專利範圍明確而有邏輯地描述了步驟順序,步驟之間有明確的前後關係,因此法院認定系爭專利發明應以所描述的步驟執行,且說明書也支持此論點。

議題三:條件式
有關「系爭專利請求項中所描述的「條件(if ...)」」,本案以"if"描述的專利範圍形成了強烈的「前後邏輯」,然而,這樣的邏輯若"不符邏輯",就可能形成無法據以實施的嚴重問題("if an invention is inoperable, then it will also fail the enablement requirement because a person skilled in the art would be unable to practice the invention")。

如本案例系爭專利,法院認為其中有不符邏輯而不明確且無法實施的技術,即便專利權人Sutton極力爭辯,還是認定該項專利範圍不是相關領域技術人員可以實施的,想要修補都來不及,成為"不可能的發明"。

看來,系爭專利請求項3中的"if...only"描述方式造成了麻煩。「claim 3. ... (2) if the receiver is configured to receive only data information messages processing the packet according to steps (3) to (8)」,法院認為雖然似乎刪除"only"可以解決問題,但不同意在此刪除。

"No matter what the construction, there is no scenario where the claim steps can be logically performed giving meaning to all the words used in the claim. The logical inconsistency would be most easily resolved by the simple deletion of the word "only" from step (2). Though the inconsistency within claim 3 is likely the result of mere drafting error, courts are not permitted to rewrite claim language."

CAFC沒意見:


地方法院判決文:
https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=1404344610323139388&q=sutton+v.+nokia&hl=en&as_sdt=2,48

my two cents:
對於「步驟順序」的解釋原則:(我本人的意見)看技術而定,如果是製程,步驟一般來說是重要的限制;若說明書描述步驟影響了實際技術目的,步驟順序為重要的限制,或是專利答辯時有強調或修正過,步驟順序為必要限制;若步驟有明顯前後關係,例如之後的步驟會因為之前步驟而改變,顯然順序是一個重要的技術限制;如果前後順序在相關技術人員來看可以輕易顛倒而不影響結果,則步驟順序顛倒不能成為限制,而後案也不能以此為迴避的條件。

參考案例:方法步驟順序的限制 - Mformation v. RIM案例討論(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/09/mformation-v-rim.html

有關條件發明,有時無法避免地需要以「條件式」來撰寫專利範圍,但需要避免過於限定的用語,如"if ... only"。其他,我認為會有兩種不同的面相:

「侵權比對」時,由於兩個以上的條件式(判斷式)都寫在請求項中,對照被告產品需要有這幾個判斷步驟才算”侵權”,也就表示對照產品若沒有這麼多判斷條件,至少就不落入「全要件」(另有均等論需要討論)。也就是,如果對照被告產品僅執行條件中的某一動作,但沒有其他判斷條件,仍可能不落入侵權。

顯然,條件式寫法的專利範圍將受限於所有的條件都要讀到被告產品才算,範圍不見得廣。

「專利性」討論時,案例顯示卻又不是這樣,專利範圍的"最廣"範圍在於「當有條件符合而流程結束,就以此為最廣專利範圍」,可參考案例報導Ex parte Schulhauser (PTAB 2013-007847)http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2016/10/ex-parte-schulhauser-ptab-2013-007847.html)。也就是,當專利範圍中有多個條件式,但只要有前案揭露了其中一個條件符合後的動作,即算是對應到專利範圍的最大範圍。

這樣,表示條件式的專利範圍最大範圍在有條件符合而終止流程時,這時解讀範圍又很廣。

Ron

2017年2月20日 星期一

專利範圍受制於臨時申請案內容? - MPHJ Tech v. Ricoh (Fed. Cir. 2017)

前言:

議題一:光看這個題目,知道這是一個有爭議的判決,連CAFC也不是每個法官都支持這個結論。一般來說,解釋專利範圍時會參考專利說明書內容,但「臨時申請案(或說暫時、草案...等,provisional application)」呢?

實務上,「臨時申請案」內容因為在其目的的考量下會與「非臨時申請案(正式案)」有些差距,甚至是"很多差異",例如一件正式案主張可以多件臨時申請案優先權,臨時申請案的法律目的主要是「優先權」,但其內容是否會有影響?如果有影響,顯然我們面對臨時申請案要更嚴肅一點!就不能是草草送件的草案

議題二:還有個有趣的技術議題是,電腦/網路技術往往帶來便利,而這個便利就是「自動取代人工」,就是產生「一鍵完成」原本「人為多個步驟」的特點,但是這個「一鍵完成」往往是基於一個程式背後的多個步驟程序,電腦不過是"自動"完成了本來就是多個步驟的動作而已。經典的技術如:購物車,消費者只要點一下"加入購物車"按鍵,之後可以"一鍵結帳";其他更多是「商業方法」提供消費者與系統簡潔的處理程序,都是廣義的一鍵完成,但是僅是一般電腦技術的通常應用,我想這也不容易克服顯而易見性核駁意見。

但本案結論並未解決這個問題,因為系爭專利經BRI解釋後並不限於一鍵完成的特徵。

案件MPHJ Tech v. Ricoh (Fed. Cir. 2017)關於臨時申請案的揭露內容是否會影響將來專利範圍解釋?

案件資訊:
上訴人/專利權人:MPHJ TECHNOLOGY INVESTMENTS, LLC
被上訴人:RICOH AMERICAS CORPORATION, XEROX CORPORATION, LEXMARK INTERNATIONAL, INC.,
系爭專利:US 8,488,173

本案緣起多件侵權訴訟案,系爭專利經IPR程序(IPR2014-00538)判決無效(claims 1-8)後,專利權人MPHJ上訴CAFC。

系爭專利關於文件管理的自動處理技術(updated on Feb. 20, 2017),這個系統讓一般電腦使用者將其電子文件納入商業程序中,當在某個位置以印表機掃描紙本文件同時,可以電子形式複製到其他位置,例如以網路傳送到其他位置,這是所述的虛擬印表機(virtual copier),是一個安裝在電腦中的程式,也是專利的重點,這個一次完成的動作可用於商業應用。


系爭專利Claim 1如下,界定一個傳送電子文件到多個目的地的系統,系統有「具有網路位址的印表機/掃描機」,以及儲存多個界面協定的「記憶體」與處理器,接著描述可以一鍵「Go button」完成掃描與傳送的技術。

1. A system capable of transmitting at least one of an electronic image, electronic graphics and electronic document to a plurality of external destinations including one or more of external devices, local files and applications responsively connectable to at least one communication network, comprising:
at least one network addressable scanner, digital copier or other multifunction peripheral capable of rendering at least one of said electronic image, electronic graphics and electronic document in response to a selection of a Go button;
at least one memory storing a plurality of interface protocols for interfacing and communicating;
at least one processor responsively connectable to said at least one memory, and implementing the plurality of interface protocols as a software application for interfacing and communicating with the plurality of external destinations including the one or more of the external devices and applications,
wherein one of said plurality of interface protocols is employed when one of said external destinations is email application software;
wherein a second of said plurality of interface protocols is employed when the one of said external destinations is a local file;
wherein a plurality of said external destinations is in communication with said at least one network addressable scanner, digital copier or other multifunction peripheral over a local area network;
wherein at least one of said external destinations receives said electronic image, electronic graphics and electronic document as a result of a transmission over the at least one communication network;
a printer other than said at least one network addressable scanner, digital copier or other multifunction peripheral;
wherein, in response to the selection of said Go button, an electronic document management system integrates at least one of said electronic image, electronic graphics and electronic document using software so that said electronic image, electronic graphics and electronic document gets seamlessly replicated and transmitted to at least one of said plurality of external destinations;
wherein at least one of said electronic image, electronic graphics and electronic document is processed by said at least one network addressable scanner, digital copier or other multifunction peripheral into a file format, and wherein a plurality of said external destinations are compatible with said file format without having to modify said external destinations; and
wherein upon said replication and seamless transmission to at least one of said external destinations, said electronic image, electronic graphics and electronic document is communicable across a network to at least three other of said external destinations, and is optionally printable by said printer.
系爭專利的家族也是頗為繁複,算了一下,更溯及7件臨時申請案,要"弄"這個專利,也挺累的。


本案被上訴人也是IPR請願人,引用前案除了先前專利外,主要是一件印表機先驅全錄(Xerox)在1985年參考手冊(Xerox 150 Graphic Input Station Operator and Reference Manual),關鍵在PTAB解釋專利範圍時採用了最廣且合理的BRI解釋原則,在IPR階段,解釋專利範圍在最高法院判決後確認BRI原則,也是IPR無效率頗高的原因之一。

參考:
最高法院同意IPR程序中採用BRI原則 - Cuozzo v. Leehttp://enpan.blogspot.tw/2016/06/iprbri-cuozzo-v-lee.html)。

解釋專利範圍:
專利權人主張請求項中「seamless transmission」指的是一步驟(一鍵)完成的技術,例如一鍵完成印表機經特定介面到達電子郵件目的地,當中沒有人為介入的動作(也就是所述"seamlessly",也是能與先前技術區隔的重要特徵。認為PTAB錯誤解釋專利範圍為不限定為一步驟動作,全錄前案中有拖拉的一個人為步驟。

然而,PTAB認為系爭專利沒有對於"interface"的任何限制而能解釋這個"一鍵完成"的特徵,請求項範圍也讀不出印表機/掃描機到電子郵件的一步驟程序。PTAB認為全錄技術可以"scan"後再以"email"傳送:


雖專利說明書並未支持,專利權人MPHJ搬出臨時申請案內容,如60/108,798,當中提到「IMAGinE Virtual Copier Interface」的一步驟動作,主張臨時申請案為專利歷史的一部分,這些內容可支持所述「一鍵完成」的技術特徵。



CAFC認同臨時申請案為專利歷史的一部分,因此也可以作為解釋專利範圍的依據之一。這有前例支持。

不過,從系爭專利最後獲准的專利範圍並未限制到一步驟完成的技術,說明書與請求項都反映出一鍵完成的動作為一個"選項"。即便臨時申請案有揭示這個一步驟完成的技術,但都是技術人員的選項之一,並非必要的,也就是說,臨時申請案的內容本來就是支持最後正式案的內容,最後解釋仍倚賴正式案的申請專利範圍,以及說明書與圖式。因此使得專利權人如何用力地強調這個可與前案區隔的技術,都無法成為限制目前請求項範圍的特徵。

"A person skilled in this field would reasonably conclude that the inventor intended that single-step operation would be optional, not obligatory."

經專利範圍確認不能將一鍵完成作為唯一限制後,如同PTAB的決定,系爭專利請求項發明並未能與前案區隔,包括新穎性與非顯而易見性。

CAFC確認系爭專利不具專利性。

my two cents:
即便「一鍵完成」不容易准予專利,但本篇即便專利權人強調其技術性,仍是碰到說明書缺乏支持的阻礙。

本案有個學習是,provisional application內容在解釋專利範圍會被參考,但是provisional application的目的本來就是一種選擇,不能以此區隔前案,因此最後仍以正式案內容為主,因為正式案就是一個最終選擇,可能拋棄任一臨時申請案的技術特點

這個爭議頗為有趣:
"Petitioner points out that the statements in the ’798 Provisional on which MPHJ now relies were omitted from the final application. MPHJ responds that these omitted sections were not explicitly disclaimed, and therefore that they are part of the prosecution history and are properly relied on to explain and limit the claims, even if the passages do not appear in the issued patent."
('798為系爭專利主張優先權的臨時申請案之一)

這句話說明專利權人/發明人在臨時申請案到正式申請案時的「抉擇」,這點可能反而成為一種限制,很重要
"In this case, it is the deletion from the ’798 Provisional application that contributes understanding of the intended scope of the final application."

但你可以不同意,如法官O’MALLEY。

另外,若本案例中系爭專利如專利權人所強調下就"剩"「一鍵完成的Go button」,這樣是否可以承受BRI的解釋?

這點似乎並未解決,不過,我認為這樣仍無法在BRI解釋原則下存活。

判決文:http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/16-1243.Opinion.2-9-2017.1.PDF
(備份:https://app.box.com/s/ckxpv4542rf3eh82b6yw3dko7ft0vgxv

資料參考:http://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/02/broadened-provisional-application.html

Ron

2017年2月17日 星期五

法院教我們甚麼是實質證據 - PersonalWeb Tech v. Apple (Fed. Cir. 2017)

對於「顯而易知性」答辯理由需要不小的技巧與對於證據力的判斷,直接映入我腦袋的「Graham v. John Deere Co. 判例」,這雖然是指引審查委員作出顯而易知性判斷的方針,但也是答辯時的基本態度(如下),就一般理解來說,答辯時:(1)先理解先前技術;(2)找到請求項發明與先前技術的差異(差異可以透過限縮專利範圍擴大);(3)判斷PHOSITA先前技術的技術是否可以使得兩者差異為簡單達成(證明差異非顯而易知);(4)證明兩件以上的先前技術沒有結合的可能或動機(例如,先前技術分別解決不同的問題,沒有結合的動機,證明先前技術反向教示(teach away)本發明,以及證明本發明產生前案組合無法預期的效果)。

Graham v. John Deere Co. 判例(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2012/10/graham-v-john-deere-co.htmlhttp://enpan.blogspot.tw/2008/09/103a_25.html)」
  1. Determining the scope and contents of the prior art.(確認前案的範疇)
  2. Ascertaining the differences between the prior art and the claims at issue.(查明權利範圍與前案的差異)
  3. Resolving the level of ordinary skill in the pertinent art.(分辨發明相關領域的一般技術水平)
  4. Considering objective evidence present in the application indicating obviousness or nonobviousness.(考慮申請案中顯而易見或非顯而易見的的客觀證據)
    這部份也就是日後稱為Graham factors -- secondary considerations:商業上成功、解決長期未解決的需求、克服別人的失敗
答辯參考:
然而,建立審查委員的核駁基礎,或是專利答辯的基礎,都是基於所謂實質證據(substantial evidence)的取得,在本次討論中,法院解釋了何謂實質證據 - PersonalWeb Tech v. Apple (Fed. Cir. 2017)

案件資訊:
上訴人/專利權人:PERSONAL WEB TECHNOLOGIES, LLC
被上訴人:APPLE, INC.
系爭專利:US7,802,310

本案源自系爭專利的IPR案(IPR2013-00596),IPR也溯及侵權訴訟,IPR針對系爭專利claims 24, 32, 70, 81, 82, and 86提出無效理由,前案為Woodhill (US 5,649,196)與Stefik (US 7,359,881),經全部啟始後,這些請求項被認為不具專利性。

系爭專利Claim 70如下,界定一資料存取控制的電腦方法,控制電腦存取需要授權的資料,其中根據資料內容,經演算後賦予檔案唯一的名稱,之後這個名稱成為電腦是否被授權存取的依據,未被授權的電腦並不會得知檔案名稱。

70. A computer-implemented method operable in a system which includes a network of computers, the system implemented at least in part by hardware including at least one processor, the method comprising the steps of:
in response to a request at a first computer, from another computer, said request comprising at least a content-based identifier for a particular data item, the content-based identifier for the particular data item being based at least in part on a given function of at least some data which comprise the contents of the particular data item, wherein the given function comprises a message digest or a hash function, and wherein two identical data items will have the same content-based identifier:
(A) hardware in combination with software, determining whether the content-based identifier for the particular data item corresponds to an entry in a database comprising a plurality of content-based identifiers; and
(B) based at least in part on said determining in step (A), selectively permitting the particular data item to be accessed at or by one or more computers in the network of computers, said one or more computers being distinct from said first computer.
專利權人對IPR決定不服,上訴CAFC。

首先,CAFC同意PTAB以最廣而合理的解釋(BRI)原則解釋專利範圍,因此這不是法院討論的議題。但CAFC則認為PTAB並未充分提出系爭專利相關專利範圍為顯而易知的理由

CAFC對PTAB提出兩點應該要證明的事實:

(1) 應在兩個先前技術(Woodhill, Stefik)找出系爭專利'310全部的元件("First, the Board had to find in Woodhill and Stefik all of the elements of the ’310 patent claims at issue.")。

(2) 並應找出PHOSITA結合先前技術的動機,而經此結合後可以達到發明成功合理的期待("Second, the Board had to find that a person of ordinary skill in the art would have been motivated to combine the prior art in the way claimed by the ’310 patent claims at issue and had a reasonable expectation of success in doing so.")

此時可以搬出美國最高法院在KSR案的認知,都是實質證據應該考量的:(1)專利主張的"發現"幾乎必然是已知技術的組合("claimed discoveries almost of necessity will be combinations of what, in some sense, is already known");(2)重要的是,要辨明一個可以促使相關領域一般技術人員如發明一般地組合這些已知元件的理由(“it can be important to identify a reason that would have prompted a person of ordinary skill in the relevant field to combine the elements in the way the claimed new invention does.”);(3)考量先前技術的教示以及市場需求,與技術人員的背景知識("prior-art teachings and marketplace demands and artisans’ background knowledge")來判斷是否有明顯的理由而組合這些已知元件。

因此,基於這些意見,法院將審視PTAB是否有以這些標準來分析顯而易見性。



有關IPR決定,CAFC確認PTAB雖沒有濫用他們的權利,但核駁理由並不充分,其中PTAB並不足以證明:以上兩件先前技術揭露了系爭專利權利範圍的所有元件,而相關領域技術人員有動機結合這兩件前案而達到系爭專利發明成功的合理期待。

也就是,法院認為PTAB與APPLE的請願書中引用的先前技術並沒有清楚地交代先前技術如何揭露了系爭專利的專利元件,比如涵蓋系爭專利的權利範圍的所有元件(元件比對),也沒有清楚論述先前技術如何揭露了系爭專利發明(技術比對),更未能證明相關領域技術人員具有結合前案而達成系爭專利發明成功的合理期待(reasonable expectation of success)的動機(結合動機)。


這些都是所述的實質證據,使用已知前案,要證實前案可以涵蓋所有元件、仔細論述比對過程,更要證明前案具有結合的動機。

CAFC給了很高的標準,其實是認為PTAB"有點混",認為PTAB很概括地說明核駁理由,並沒有充分地解釋以及建構在證據上,特別是沒有解釋前案的組合如何運作"HOW the combination of the two references was supported to work"。

(重要)


最終,CAFC否決PTAB判斷,認為PTAB與APPLE並未提出證明系爭專利為顯而易知(35 U.S.C. 103)的「實質證據(substantial evidence)」,其中並未證明相關領域技術人員有動機去結合先前技術而產生如系爭專利「成功的合理期待(reasonable expectation of success)」的發明。

"Board did not adequately support its findings that the prior art disclosed all elements of the challenged claims and that a relevant skilled artisan would have had a motivation to combine the prior-art references to produce the claimed ’310 inventions with a reasonable expectation of success."

以上就是法院教我們如何證明「顯而易知」的實質證據。

my two cents:
所以,要證明某專利顯而易知,需要(1)找到可以涵蓋系爭專利所有元件(涵蓋全部主要元件應已足夠)的先前文獻(就進步性而言,一般是兩件以上的前案);(2)論述技術比對的過程;以及(3)證明相關技術人員具有組合前案而達成系爭發明的動機。

其實,即便講得很清楚,但是還是聽的(用的)很模糊,還是有許多模糊的定義,比如如何界定相關技術水平,何謂相關領域技術人員(skilled artisan)。但我很認同需要充分解釋前案組合後如何運作而達成系爭專利的發明,才能讓人信服,不過,這點的模糊地區也是專利答辯的契機

雖然以上討論議題是你我已經熟知的議題,但本篇判決仍可以成為你我學習作為顯而易知性證據的判斷,不論是用來舉發專利,或是審查答辯(反過來質疑審查意見的合理性),都是有用的參考資料。

判決書:http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/16-1174.Opinion.2-10-2017.1.PDF
(備份:https://app.box.com/s/b9eo0l7hf3jqefs4ymi5cw7vld9g42sw

資料參考:
http://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/02/federal-particularity-evidence.html

Ron

2017年2月16日 星期四

封閉式連接詞影響侵權主張 - Shire Development v. Watson Pharma (Fed. Cir. 2017)

封閉式連接詞影響侵權主張 - Shire Development v. Watson Pharma (Fed. Cir. 2017)

原告/被上訴人:SHIRE DEVELOPMENT, LLC, etc.
被告/上訴人:WATSON PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. etc.
系爭專利:US6,773,720

本案緣起原告Shire以系爭專利提出侵權告訴,認為被告Watson的新藥(ANDA)侵犯專利權。

系爭專利關於口服藥物的的成份,如請求項1描述,主要元件為「內部親脂基質(inner lipophilic matrix)」與「外親水基質(outer hydrophilic matrix)」,另可有「excipients」。其中內部為親脂性元件(lipophilic),外層親水性元件(hydrophilic)是可以聯想到「口服藥」需要與水相溶的概念。
1. Controlled-release oral pharmaceutical compositions containing as an active ingredient 5-amino-salicylic acid, comprising:
a) an inner lipophilic matrix consisting of substances selected from the group consisting of unsaturated and/or hydrogenated fatty acid, salts, esters or amides thereof, fatty acid mono-, di- or triglycerids, waxes, ceramides, and cholesterol derivatives with melting points below 90° C., and wherein the active ingredient is dispersed both in said the lipophilic matrix and in the hydrophilic matrix;
b) an outer hydrophilic matrix wherein the lipophilic matrix is dispersed, and said outer hydrophilic matrix consists of compounds selected from the group consisting of polymers or copolymers of acrylic or methacrylic acid, alkylvinyl polymers, hydroxyalkyl celluloses, carboxyalkyl celluloses, polysaccharides, dextrins, pectins, starches and derivatives, alginic acid, and natural or synthetic gums;
c) optionally other excipients;
wherein the active ingredient is present in an amount of 80 to 95% by weight of the total composition, and wherein the active ingredient is dispersed both in the lipophilic matrix and in the hydrophilic matrix.
地院階段:
地方法院否決被告提出專利無效(無法據以實施)的主張,並認為Watson侵權成立。案件經上訴,並甚至到了最高法院,再發回重審。(經查,相同的當事人在2014, 2015都有法院判決)

系爭專利請求項1中的主要元件採用了封閉式連接詞「consisting of」,其中各成份又有各種可能的組合(or用語),在過去的法院判決中也認定為「Markush group」的寫法。

法院解釋專利範圍:
"consisting of"是個強烈封閉式的用語(但也曾有例外,所以法院態度還算保留):


例外案例:


Markush為選擇式用語:


法院考慮各種用語與可能性是讓我們更清楚、更客觀地看案子。對於本案,被告侵權產品經分析後,有以下成份:


地院認為被告侵權物並沒有完全與系爭專利範圍一致,但因為被告侵權物都有如親水、親脂等成份,仍判侵權成立。

CAFC階段:
案件到CAFC,法院準確地討論到口服藥物吞嚥時的情況,考慮到專利範圍「封閉連接詞」的使用造成的專利範圍的限制,甚至不能包括說明書有列舉的其他成份。


"And we decline to impose such a requirement, which would in effect equate the scope of a Markush group’s “consisting of” language with either “comprising” or “consisting essentially of language."

即便原告有很好的解釋,但是都被這個"consisting of"用語打敗。


最後,CAFC認為侵權不成立,發回重審。

判決文:http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/16-1785.Opinion.2-8-2017.1.PDF
(備份:https://app.box.com/s/mpn0pexfr8h6890t908dvpa74xqvx2j4

資訊來源:
http://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/02/consisting-provides-infringement.html

Ron

2017年2月15日 星期三

設計專利侵權爭議的議題 - 何謂"article of manufacture"

Apple v. Samsung的侵權訴訟,特別是有關設計方面的爭議,之前美國最高法院在12/6對Apple v. Samsung在設計專利侵權賠償比例上的爭議作出決定,認為設計專利僅涉及整個產品的部分,僅能根據比例計算損害賠償。

可參考: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

前次最後的決定是,最高法院認為CAFC過於狹隘地解釋專利法第289條,發回重審;並由於蘋果與三星都為提出要求最高法院作出測試如何判斷設計專利侵權賠償的規則,法院也不作出這方面決定。

案件資訊:
原告/被上訴人:APPLE INC.
被告/上訴人:SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO. etc.

回到CAFC,由於之前最高法院認為CAFC過於狹隘地解釋專利法第289條,否決了先前CAFC判決設計專利侵權賠償涵蓋被告產品的整體利益的決定。

Apple與Samsung對此次CAFC重審都提出意見,Apple自然要求CAFC作出原處分的決定,Samsung則是要求重審地方法院的損害賠償決定。

最高法院認為專利法第289條所解釋的損害賠償應(1)先辨別被告設計所應用的"article of manufacture"(製品),接著是(2)計算侵權者在此"article of manufacture"的全部收益。

所述問題就是何謂「article of manufacture」?對於多元件組成的產品來說,"article of manufacture"是指最終賣給消費者的產品,還是可以是產品的一部分?CAFC認為只能是其中之一,指為全部的產品;但最高法院認為兩者都是289解釋範圍

看來,雖然"article of manufacture"可以指一個產品的一部分,但Samsung並沒有提出對於設計專利所涉及的"部分"的證據,而是主張地院作出的損害賠償違反最高法院的決定,因此僅要求CAFC發回地方法院重審本案的損害賠償。

戰場將回到地方法院,這次對於專利法第289條將會可能有具有影響力的意見,也會產生影響日後設計專利所涵蓋損害賠償的判斷的參考。

[相關法條]
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.

Nothing in this section shall prevent, lessen, or impeach any other remedy which an owner of an infringed patent has under the provisions of this title, but he shall not twice recover the profit made from the infringement.

判決文:http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/14-1335.Opinion.2-6-2017.1.PDF

Ron

2017年2月14日 星期二

用專利學地理 - MENA、GCC、非洲

MENA為「Middle East and North Africa」的縮寫,泛指中東與北非,這兩個區域形成一個涵蓋摩洛哥(Morocco)到伊朗(Iran)的地區,人口有3億8千萬,佔全世界6%。這個區域也有人用WANA(West Asia and North Africa,西亞與北非)來形容,宗教上除了以色列明顯為猶太教外,以及少數基督教,多數皆為伊斯蘭。


MENA涵蓋國家有(資料來源:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MENA):


MENA涵蓋現有區域性的智慧財產組織,包括GCCPO(海灣合作委員會)、OAPI(非洲智慧財產組織)與ARIPO(非洲區智慧財產組織),SABAIP(http://www.sabaip.com)揭露這三個區域的專利資訊:

(班吉協定:Bangui Agreement;哈拉雷議定書:Harare Protocol)

GCCPO(http://www.gccpo.org/DefaultEn.aspx):


GCCPO意外地資訊很透明,可以知道現行專利申請與核准狀態,也有歷史統計資料。
目前審查中的數量:


過去幾年的申請案:

內外審查單位的比較:

核准專利列表與部分專利內容連結:



專利:
GCCPO受理專利申請案,主要國家為美國、沙烏地阿拉伯、瑞士、荷蘭與德國,各國可主張12個月優先權期限,但GCCPO並非巴黎公約成員國。申請案可以電子申請,揭露書應包括名稱、摘要、說明書、申請專利範圍與圖式,還有一些申請書表格。缺漏可於申請日後90日內補齊,所有文件需要翻譯為阿拉伯文,當申請案符合專利形式上規定,即進入實質審查。

一般實質審查結果約在申請案申請日後兩年,特別(但有點懷疑)地,這裡提到專利審查不只在GCCPO,中國與奧地利專利局也會幫忙。

一旦專利審查通過,獲准時,提供90日的異議時間,若沒有異議,或是異議不成功,即獲准專利,並同時適用GCC會員國,不必指定國家。專利權主張也是由GCC管轄(法院以其中第一申請國為主),結果適用全部會員國。

非洲:


OAPI(http://www.oapi.int/):


OAPI有17個會員國:貝寧,布基納法索,喀麥隆,中非共和國,科摩羅,剛果,科特迪瓦,加蓬,幾內亞,幾內亞比紹,赤道幾內亞,馬里,毛里塔尼亞,尼日爾,塞內加爾,乍得,多哥(Benin, Burkina faso, Cameroun, Centrafrique, Comores, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Guinée, Guinée Bissau, Guinée équatoriale, Mali, Mauritanie, Niger, Sénégal, Tchad, Togo)

ARIPO(http://www.aripo.org/):


會員國:博茨瓦納,岡比亞,加納,肯尼亞,萊索托,利比里亞,馬拉維,莫桑比克,納米比亞,盧旺達,聖多美和普林西比,塞拉利昂,索馬里,蘇丹,斯威士蘭,坦桑尼亞,烏干達,贊比亞,津巴布韋(Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sào Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe)

MENA商標:
商標資料來源:
http://njq-ip.com/basic-trademark-facts/

補充:
現行區域性專利與商標組織:
EPO
GCC(海灣合作委員會,Gulf Cooperation Council,涵蓋巴林,科威特,阿曼,卡塔爾,沙特阿拉伯和阿拉伯聯合酋長國(阿聯酋)(Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)))
ARIPO(非洲區智慧財產組織,African Regional Intellectual Property Organization)
OAPI(非洲智慧財產組織,Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle,或African Intellectual Property Organization)
EAPO(歐亞專利組織)(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/10/epo-eapo.html

資料參考:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MENA

資料來源:
NJQ & Associates(http://njq-ip.com/
MENA: REGIONAL PATENT OFFICES(http://www.sabaip.com/en/News/MENA-Regional-Patent-Offices

Ron