2018年12月11日 星期二

"有時候"侵權是甚麼意思,還是看證據辦案 - Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) v. Apple Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2018)

本案原本名稱想說是:從證據推論不足以證明侵權的案例(證據力)  - Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) v. Apple Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2018),但臨時改了。

案件資訊:
原告/被上訴人:WISCONSIN ALUMNI RESEARCH FOUNDATION (WARF,威斯康新州大學)
被告/上訴人:APPLE INC.
判決文:September 28, 2018
系爭專利:US5,781,752
本案延續2017年地方法院判決,當時陪審團判決$234M侵權賠償,地院法官再補上,最後判決賠償$506M。被告Apple上訴CAFC。


過去報導:
一件蘋果侵權案的討論 - WARF v. Apple(https://enpan.blogspot.com/2017/07/warf-v-apple.html

其中有個議題是NPE v. Patent Troll ->"原告WARF主動向法院提起阻止被告Apple提起「‘patent troll,’ ‘patent assertion entity,’ ‘non-practicing entity’ or other similarly pejorative terms.」的請求,蘋果認為這樣的請求是有別的意圖,與賠償有關。蘋果並"回復"「NPE」的名譽,認為"NPE"僅是描述"沒有實際生產的實體",並不同於"Patent Troll"有貶抑的意謂"。

"關於蘋果是否「蓄意侵權(willful infringement)」而產生進一步損害賠償,引用Seagate案CAFC的解釋:專利權人需要善意提出蓄意侵權的問題,之後再主張蓄意侵權,反之,當被告侵權者之後的行為被認為魯莽,專利權人可以主張初步禁制令。所以,如果專利權人沒有企圖阻止被告侵權者的行為,就不應僅根據被告之後的行為而要求進一步損害賠償(enhanced damage),也就是"蓄意"的成份。"

"在地院判決中,原告因為不事生產,所以沒有任何「不可回復的損害」,因此法院並未同意永久禁制令。"

系爭專利關於一種平行處理電腦中的基於表格的一種數據推測電路(Table based data speculation circuit for parallel processing computer),就是提出的預測電路可以根據過去的指令來預測將來的指令,藉此有效應用記憶體,而提昇電腦效能。被告Apple侵權物品為A7, A8, A8X等處理器晶片,這些晶片中有個「Load-Store Dependency Predictor」,用於偵測數據之間的相依性(dependency),也就是數據中負載與指令標籤的相依性,因此可以對此查表(預測),以增進處理效能。


一些細節可參考2017年報導:WARF v. Apple(https://enpan.blogspot.com/2017/07/warf-v-apple.html

-------------------------------------------------

本次CAFC階段:

上訴議題是專利是否侵權以及系爭專利有效性。

Claim 1:
1. In a processor capable of executing program instructions in an execution order differing from their program order, the processor further having a data speculation circuit for detecting data dependence between instructions and detecting a mis-speculation where a data consuming instruction dependent for its data on a data producing instruction of earlier program order, is in fact executed before the data producing instruction, a data speculation decision circuit comprising:
a) a predictor receiving a mis-speculation indication from the data speculation circuit to produce a prediction associated with the particular data consuming instruction and based on the mis-speculation indication; and

b) a prediction threshold detector preventing data speculation for instructions having a prediction within a predetermined range.

Claim 9:
9. In a processor capable of executing program instructions in an execution order differing from the program order of the instructions, the processor further having a data speculation circuit for detecting data dependence between instructions and detecting a mis-speculation where a data consuming instruction dependent for its data on a data producing instruction of earlier program order, is in fact executed before the data producing instruction, a data speculation decision circuit comprising:
a) a prediction table communicating with the data speculation circuit to create an entry listing a particular data consuming instruction and data producing instruction each associated with a prediction when a mis-speculation indication is received; and

b) an instruction synchronization circuit only instructing a processor to delay a later execution of the particular data consuming instruction if the prediction table includes an entry.

在侵權議題中,Apple主張地院陪審團並沒有合理的證據證明文義侵害成立,因為如上標示的"特定"particular""資料消耗指令,Apple主張其晶片並沒有這個特定指令也沒有偵測「誤推測"mis-speculation"」

解釋專利範圍時,主張這些用語,如particular,應給予一般與通常的意義("
plain and ordinary meaning"),當時地方法院同意Apple的意見,對此用語無須刻意定義,最後解釋其中意義是:Claim 1揭露了預測連結的單一負載指令,也就是給與"particular"一般意義時,就是指「單一」預測負載指令。

補充:解釋專利範圍的一般原則是按照"Phillips v. AWH Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc)"的法院意見。

再來就是技術比對(這裡忽略)。

WARF主張即便專利範圍被限定在「單一」指令,但被告侵權產品也在一些情況下仍有侵權的事實(有些時候侵權,不總是侵權!大概是這樣解釋)。

對此,CAFC法官經審視證據後,認為證據不足以支持WARF提出「有時侵權(指"sometimes associated with a single load instruction")」的看法(即便是單一,仍在特定情況下為侵權)。


WARF爭辯Apple被告的產品中,指令混疊的可能很低,應該大部分都是「單一負載指令」的狀態。雙方其實對技術(基於專家證詞與來往郵件等的證據)的解釋沒有共識,雖然有些確實支持WARF"有時侵權"論點,但是證據、專家證詞都不太支持這個論點。最後結論是,沒有足夠的證據顯示蘋果的處理器晶片中實施「particular(單一、特定)」的預測負載指令,反倒是Apple的作業系統包括了成千上萬的負載指令,唯一合理的推論是,這些"總是"多重負載指令

"In short, there is not substantial evidence to support WARF’s theory that, in Apple’s LSD predictor, a prediction (by way of a load tag) is at least sometimes associated with a single load instruction."



在這個議題下,CAFC是站在Apple這邊的。

my two cents:
這裡有個用語「particular」,看來就是解釋成「單一」。

本篇看來,不見得Apple晶片沒有侵權,而是,「就證據而論」,證據不足以證明(推論)出WARF的有時侵權的推論,因為晶片的複雜度不見得有「單一」指令的可能!

本篇其實是「證據不足以證明侵權」的問題,都是在"推論"的情況下判斷的。因此,從本次意見但仍可知道,若專利範圍被解釋成「一個、單一」,好像元件數量被限制,但是被告侵權物仍可能在「一些情況下」有「侵權」的問題,侵權仍可能成立。 判決文:
http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/17-2265.Opinion.9-28-2018.pdf(備份:https://app.box.com/s/rvhuq7jf34pnd5q8ho3qazid8pym9y1l

資料參考:
https://patentlyo.com/patent/2018/09/quasi-construction-federal-circuit.html

Ron

2018年12月5日 星期三

證據僅及於補償侵權的損害賠償 - Enplas Display Device Corp. v. Seoul Semiconductor Co. (Fed. Cir. 2018)

CAFC法官撤回地方法院判決給首爾半導體公司(Seoul Semiconductor Co.)的4百萬美元損害賠償,理由是地方法院的判決不符實際的證據。

案件資訊:
原告(確認之訴)/上訴人:ENPLAS DISPLAY DEVICE CORPORATION
專利權人/被告/被上訴人:SEOUL SEMICONDUCTOR COMPANY, LTD.
系爭專利:US6,473,554、US6,007,209
判決日:November 19, 2018

[前情]
系爭專利關於顯示器背光面板(Lighting apparatus having low profile),專利權人首爾半導體對日本公司Enplas提出侵權告訴,Enplas對系爭專利提出專利無效且侵權不成立的確認之訴(declaratory judgment),首爾半導體反訴侵權成立,並提出損害賠償要求。

地院陪審團判決侵權成立,以及對'554案的4百萬美元一次式賠償金額,以及對'209案7萬美元損害賠償。所述「一次式賠償金額」,判決解釋是針對所有Enplas產品一次式懲罰,包括未被提告侵權訴訟的產品。

看似阿沙力的一次式賠償,其實是「落人口實」,因為還涵蓋未被告侵權的其他產品,Enplas提出訴後請願(post-trial motion),但被地院駁回,駁回理由是判決被告產品落入專利範圍(anticipation)、誘使侵權成立,以及沒有過度損害等,這些變成後來上訴的議題。

"The district court denied Enplas’s post-trial motions for JMOL of anticipation of the ’554 patent, no inducement, and excessive damages."

(重點一)有關誘使侵權(induced infringement)議題,要證明「誘使侵權成立」,要證明,第一,直接侵權成立;第二,侵權者有意識地"誘使侵權",也有意圖地鼓勵他人侵權,也就是被告知道系爭專利,並也產生誘使的行為。

"“Whoever actively induces infringement of a patent shall be liable as an infringer.” 35 U.S.C. § 271(b). “In order to succeed on a claim of inducement, the patentee must show, first that there has been direct infringement, and second that the alleged infringer knowingly induced infringement and possessed specific intent to encourage another’s infringement.”"

(重點二)若為「誘使侵權」,「意圖」很重要,這個段落也很重要,「直接侵權」要在美國本土,若要成立「誘使侵權」,則可能在美國境外發生,專利權人要證明被告對系爭專利有足夠的瞭解,但卻意圖誘導他人而使得在美國本土產生直接侵權。

"Unlike direct infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(a), which must occur in the United States, liability for induced infringement under § 271(b) can be imposed based on extraterritorial acts, provided that the patentee proves the defendant possessed the requisite knowledge and specific intent to induce direct infringement in the United States."

CAFC確認誘使侵權成立。以下是證據說明:



有關損害賠償:
在判決以上所述一次式賠償是由首爾半導體公司請出的專家證詞中列出「一次性使用費談判(lump-sum royalty negotiation)」的相關產品,其中涵蓋未列於被告侵權的疑似侵權產品。編按,"一次式"使用費談判是一般侵權訴訟中談判方案之一,通常會發生在訴前或訴中「和解」的談判,雙方在談判金額上會考量將來的產品、利潤、是否已經投產的成本;但是,若金額僅依賴專家證詞與薄弱的證據,且是在訴後計算,確實可能會產生疑慮。

首爾半導體公司專家證詞表示Enplas可能可以同意所述一次式賠償的條件。



(重點三, AstraZeneca案例)但Enplas反對專家提出的基於直接侵權的損害賠償的計算方式,Enplas主張專家證詞不符證據,而陪審團也沒有提到任何「lost profit」(損害即利益)的計算方式,所謂一次式賠償含蓋了對未來產品授權的意味,CAFC同意Enplas的主張,依照AstraZeneca案例,所謂合理權利金(reasonable royalty)不能包括沒有建立專利侵權的活動專利賠償僅限於補償侵權造成的損害

"As we have held, a reasonable royalty “cannot include activities that do not constitute patent infringement, as patent damages are limited to those ‘adequate to compensate for the infringement.’” AstraZeneca AB v. Apotex Corp., 782 F.3d 1324, 1343 (Fed. Cir. 2015) (quoting § 284)."

[CAFC意見]
案件進入CAFC,CAFC法官同意地院對於「判決符合期待、請求沒有動機」的看法,但反對賠償金額涵蓋未被起訴侵權的產品的過度賠償,理由是沒有實質證據。

Enplas的上訴理由是,所述4百萬美元的金額僅倚賴首爾半導體公司的專家證詞,卻沒有實質證據支持如何計算這個判決金額。

根據CAFC意見,所述4百萬美元的「一次式」賠償金額涵蓋了「未被提告為侵權產品以外的疑似侵權產品」,而合理的授權金額不應涵蓋未被起訴為專利侵權的活動(產品),所謂「損害賠償」應僅及於「侵權補償(compensate it for the infringement)」(依照過去案例),因此駁回本次地院賠償金額的決定。

補充:
然而,司法是否應該要解決「未列於議題」的潛在議題?這點法官Newman又有不同意見了,她認為Enplas並未針對專家證詞提出的證據,且賠償金額(含將來授權)計算到潛在侵權的產品是合理的,這雖是「假設」,但CAFC的決定也是基於未來的「假設」,這是不適當的。

判決文:
http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/16-2599.Opinion.11-19-2018.pdf(備份:https://app.box.com/s/vwbvbmstzo21zcd761zwo2ce29ev8fpf

my two cents:
本篇爭議是「錢」,有沒有計算到「未被提告為侵權產品」的賠償金額(包括授權金)差好幾百萬美元,原來侵權被告(是本次確認之訴原告)自然會提出反對意見。若法院判出的損害賠償僅及於被告侵權的產品,使得...訴訟可能會被拉到第二戰場,就是針對「未來」侵權的賠償或授權金額的議題,要不然「未來潛在侵權」的議題就僅能在雙方自己磋商。

雖有反對意見,但從本案例仍可得到損害賠償僅及於侵權的補償的結論,至少法院在專利侵權訴訟中僅能針對有證據的部分判決。

參考資料:
http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2018/12/03/reasonable-royalty-cannot-include-activities-that-do-not-constitute-patent-infringement/id=103832/

Ron

2018年11月30日 星期五

「味道」不受到著作權保護與相關侵權議題討論(歐洲) - Levola Hengelo BV v. Smilde Foods BV (Court of Appeal, Arnhem-Leeuwarden, Netherlands 2018)

保護「味道」的著作權 - Levola Hengelo BV v. Smilde Foods BV (Court of Appeal, Arnhem-Leeuwarden, Netherlands 2018)

案件資訊:
原告/上訴人:Levola Hengelo BV
被告:Smilde Foods BV
法院:Gelderland District Court, Netherlands

本次爭議中關於一種蘸醬‘Heksenkaas’,或稱Witch’s Cheese,這是一種經典的荷蘭奶酪醬,判決文定義:"Heksenkaas is a spreadable dip with cream cheese and fresh herbs.",是一種可塗抹的奶油奶酪和新鮮香草。上訴人Levola Hengelo強調這個蘸醬的味道是他們的版權(copyright)。

本次爭議源自荷蘭法院於23 May 2017作出初步決定(preliminary ruling),接著案件進入歐盟司法法院(ECJ),主要議題是「味道/氣味」是否是著作權保護標的?

Levola Hengelo擁有有關"Heksenkaas"的權利,並於2012年推出產品,到了2014年,Smilde Food也推出類似的產品"Witte Wievenkaas",Levola Hengelo即提告(荷蘭法院),認為Smilde侵犯其"氣味"著作權。

Levola Hengelo的"Heksenkaas":


Smilde Food的"Witte Wievenkaas":


其中,主張Heksenkaas氣味著作權的Levola Hengelo認為Heksenkaas為自己的智慧創作(intellectual creation),應該符合著作權法中規範的作品/創作(work),主張被告"仿製"了這個創作(氣味),其中也宣稱也擁有專利權與商標權。


結果,荷蘭法院無法評估氣味是否符合著作權標的,因此在2015年撤銷這個訴訟,Levola Hengelo上訴後,荷蘭阿納姆 - 呂伐登上訴法院(Arnhem-Leeuwarden Court of Appeal)則訴諸歐盟司法法院意見

ECJ判決中提到幾個相關法條規定,包括EP, WIPO、Berne Convention、WTO Agreement、TRIPS Agreement與國內法,文學與藝術創作的保護就如著作權(copyright),本次爭議相關的規定在歐洲法中的Directive 2001/29,其中規定「重製權」,這是給作者的排他權,禁止他人以直接、間接、暫時或永久地重製全部或部分作者的創作,「傳播權」禁止他人以任何形式播送給大眾,「散布權」禁止任何形式販售非經授權的創作。

相關著作權法(如Berne Convention)保護的創作/作品(work)是"literary and artistic works",偏向文學與藝術創作,並且也是指向「視覺/聽覺」相關的創作。而有關食品的味道(taste)關聯的味覺具有極大的主觀性質,可能無法有穩定的保護狀態

產生的問題是,味道/氣味(taste)是否符合著作權法中定義的"work"?但相關法條,如Directive 2001/29,並沒有定義"work",而僅是列舉哪些是"work",就如上述視覺與聽覺方面的work,偏向文學與藝術(音樂、繪畫...)創作,答案十分不明確

以下是ECJ法官的意見,就Berne公約定義的著作權表達的"literary and artistic works"包括文學、科學與藝術領域的作品,不論形式的表達,且為關於刺激「視覺與聽覺」方面的作品,並可能排除了味覺或觸覺方面的創作。並且也表明國際上對此也沒有相關規定。

"I would note, however, that, notwithstanding the fact that, under Article 2(1) of the Berne Convention, ‘the expression “literary and artistic works” include every production in the literary, scientific and artistic domain, whatever may be the mode or form of its expression’, that provision refers only to works which are perceived visually or aurally, such as books and musical compositions, excluding productions which may be perceived by other senses such as taste, smell or touch."

因此,即便上訴人提出了專家證人,但因為氣味具有不確定性與客觀性,在侵權判斷上具有不明確性,使得法院作出氣味無法主張著作權的決定。

"However, the fact that tastes themselves are ephemeral, volatile and unstable militates, in my view, against their precise and objective identification and, therefore, their classification as works for the purposes of copyright."

最後,歐盟司法法院作出決定,為了法律的穩定性,認為食品的味道無法客觀地、精確地識別出來,因此裁定「氣味」不是可受到著作權保護的標的。

"Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society precludes the copyright protection of the taste of a food product."

[法條]
荷蘭國內法(著作權):
17.      Article 1 of the Auteurswet (Netherlands Copyright Law, ‘the Copyright Law’) provides:


‘Copyright is the exclusive right of the author of a literary, scientific or artistic work or his successors in title, to communicate that work to the public and to reproduce it, subject to the limitations laid down by law.’

EU law
14.      Article 2 of Directive 2001/29, entitled ‘Reproduction right’, provides:

‘Member States shall provide for the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit direct or indirect, temporary or permanent reproduction by any means and in any form, in whole or in part:

(a)      for authors, of their works;

...’

15.      Article 3 of Directive 2001/29, entitled ‘Right of communication to the public of works and right of making available to the public other subject matter’, provides:

‘1.      Member States shall provide authors with the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit any communication to the public of their works, by wire or wireless means, including the making available to the public of their works in such a way that members of the public may access them from a place and at a time individually chosen by them.

...’

16.      Article 4 of Directive 2001/29, entitled ‘Distribution right’, provides:

‘1.      Member States shall provide for authors, in respect of the original of their works or of copies thereof, the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit any form of distribution to the public by sale or otherwise.


...’


my two cents:
本次判決是講「氣味」的著作權,然而,氣味也會有商標的概念,例如,我用「味道」二字查自己的部落格,知道味道也是商標類型的一種:商標類型有:動態、3D全像圖、顏色、地理、聲音、氣味、觸感、味道與「trade dress(トレードドレス,外觀商標)」等,可參考日本專利局整理各國新型態商標與範例:https://enpan.blogspot.com/2016/04/blog-post_18.html

事實上,很多國家並不認同可以商標保護氣味、聲音與觸感。

補充,歐盟司法法院網站:https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/jcms/index.html
歐洲法院案件搜尋網站:http://curia.europa.eu/juris/recherche.jsf?cid=5774490

ECJ判決文:
http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf;jsessionid=E3A51A3CEC28DC8052A632448DC357EF?text=&docid=204426&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=req&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=3633494

參考資料:
https://patentlyo.com/patent/2018/11/protecting-your-flavor.html
https://svw.no/en/news/news/2018/november/the-taste-of-a-food-product-is-not-eligible-for-copyright-protection/
http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2018/11/the-levola-hengelo-cjeu-decision.html
https://www.vbb.com/insights/corporate-commercial/corporate-commercial/dutch-court-seeks-guidance-from-court-of-justice-of-european-union-regarding-copyright-protection-of-taste
https://www.specialtyfood.com/news/article/eu-court-rules-taste-food-cannot-be-trademarked/

編按,在Patently-O文後提到,歐洲司法法院也出自己的答覆:所述"Directive 2001/29"排除氣味/味道是版權可保護的標的。

Ron

2018年11月29日 星期四

被告的主場優勢 - 管轄權影響訴訟正當性討論 - In re OATH HOLDINGS, INC. (Fed. Cir. 2018)

請願人:In re: OATH HOLDINGS INC., fka Yahoo Holdings, Inc.

本案由請願人Oath Holdings Inc.針對地方法院作出Oath未及時提出管轄權(venue)反對意見的請願案,即向CAFC提出「Writ of Mandamus(上級對下級撤銷判決的令狀)」請願。

(前情)這裡有些關於時間點的爭議,就是,Oath在此次之前已經有一次提出Writ of Mandamus請願,但CAFC要求應先對地方法院反應重新考量案件,但被地院駁回,認為Oath應該早一點提出這個要求,因此撤銷這個請求。不過,本次(第二次)提出Writ of Mandamus後,CAFC同意,並指示地院重新因為管轄權的問題撤銷訴訟或轉換法院才是。

本案例有兩件有趣的議題:(1)地方法院管轄權;(2)Writ of Mandamus

有關管轄權的問題,就是源自2016年AlmondNet對Oath提出專利侵權告訴(United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York),但Oath提出其事業雖也在紐約州,不過是在Delaware,在提訟的東地方法院沒有經常的商業駐點,因此提出「dismiss for improper venue」,要求因為管轄權不符應撤銷訴訟。

有關規定在28 U.S.C. § 1400(b) (“Any civil action for patent infringement may be brought
in the judicial district where the defendant resides, or where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.”).

相關判例是:以企業據點決定管轄法院 - 美國最高法院TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Group Brands LLC決定(https://enpan.blogspot.com/2017/05/tc-heartland-llc-v-kraft-food-group.html),此判例確立在專利爭議中,管轄範圍就在公司駐地的法院。



當Oath提出撤銷訴訟的請願時,地院簡單以「管轄權無誤」回應Oath的請願,加上提出主張的時間點不符規定(認為Oath拋棄答辯),請願被駁回。

這時,剛好在2017年,美國最高法院確認以上TC Heartland LLC判例的同時,也確立拋棄權利的規則(如逾期主張)不能用來駁回管轄權防衛(有關正當性,地位更高)。(重要)

"the venue defense now raised by Micron (and others) based on TC Heartland’s interpretation of the venue statute was not ‘available,’ thus making the waiver rule of Rule 12(g)(2) and (h)(1)(A) inapplicable."

這時,Oath就立即再次主張管轄權有誤應撤銷訴訟的請願,理由是,最高法院在TC Heartland LLC的判決並未改變過去的規則。

相同的判決,又各自表述了。

因此,Oath轉移上訴CAFC,提出writ of mandamus請願。

然而,CAFC要發出撤銷下級法院的令狀的條件規定在28 U.S. Code § 1651:協助司法管轄權與同意其用途與原則,看來管轄權是個重要的issue。

28 U.S. Code § 1651 - Writs
(a) The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.

(b) An alternative writ or rule nisi may be issued by a justice or judge of a court which has jurisdiction.

CAFC判斷,本案中,東紐約地方法院管轄範圍確實沒有涵蓋Oath所在地,而Oath主張管轄權異議的時間是否有誤?根據過去判例,如Micron,法院認為Oath並沒有拋棄主張的權利,並且主張內容有理,認為地院的決定違反Micron決定意旨,因此同意「writ of mandamus」。

如此,國會立法賦予每個被告有「主場優勢」。


本篇CAFC不算判決,法院作出結論後,最後簽署的人是一個法院員工,不是法官。


判決文:
http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/18-157.Motion_Panel_Order.11-14-2018.1.pdf

參考資料:
https://patentlyo.com/patent/2018/11/continues-mandamus-improper.html

Ron

2018年11月28日 星期三

獲准歐洲專利之後

筆記

本篇筆記源自:如何取得歐洲專利(How to get a European patent)?第18版(http://documents.epo.org/projects/babylon/eponet.nsf/0/8266ED0366190630C12575E10051F40E/$File/how_to_get_a_european_patent_2018_en.pdf

- 當提出歐洲專利申請案時,依照Article 79 EPC,都視為指定全部的EPC成員國(締約國)。

- 但專利要在各成員國生效,需要繳交費用。並可以在任何時間撤銷指定國別。

- 各國指定費應在歐洲專利檢索報告(隨著專利申請案)公開(申請日後18個月)後6個月內繳交。

- 當歐洲專利獲准後,可以因此在任何歐洲專利公約(EPC)的成員國(contracting state)中受到保護,條件是,要翻譯成該成員國的官方語言。

根據Article 65(1) EPC規定,在獲准歐洲專利後3個月內要提出指定國的官方語言翻譯,而在簽署倫敦協議(London Agreement)的成員國中獲得專利保護,僅須翻譯申請專利範圍。(成員國:The contracting states are: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom.

- 獲准專利為方法流程(process),保護範圍及於由此方法流程直接產生的產品。

- 在各成員國中發生的侵權事件,由該國國內法執行。

- 「公開」的歐洲專利申請案有一種臨時保護(provisional protection)的效力,也如各成員國國內公開案的效力,日後專利一旦獲准,這段時間的侵權行為可以主張補償。

- 根據Article 63(Term of the European patent),歐洲專利自申請日起保護20年,進入各成員國內也沒有變長,但例外的是,到了國家階段,專利期限可以延長:戰爭、緊急狀況,以及,若專利權涉及產品或製造產品的方法,在上市前需要經過行政授權程序(administrative authorisation procedure),如藥品或植物檢驗,可以延長專利權(supplementary protection certificate (SPC))。

- 在各成員國提出的專利異議程序,可以在EPO上訴。

- 歐洲專利獲准後,開始指定國,即便指定了所有歐洲專利公約成員國,但仍須在各國繳費,除非明確表達要撤銷的幾個指定國。同樣地,繳付年費也是一樣。(因此,歐洲專利在各成員國生效的條件是:獲准歐洲專利、繳費與翻譯)


[法條]
Article 65 Translation of the European patent
(1) Any Contracting State may, if the European patent as granted, amended or limited by the European Patent Office is not drawn up in one of its official languages, prescribe that the proprietor of the patent shall supply to its central industrial property office a translation of the patent as granted, amended or limited in one of its official languages at his option or, where that State has prescribed the use of one specific official language, in that language. The period for supplying the translation shall end three months after the date on which the mention of the grant, maintenance in amended form or limitation of the European patent is published in the European Patent Bulletin, unless the State concerned prescribes a longer period.

Article 79 Designation of Contracting States
(1)All the Contracting States party to this Convention at the time of filing of the European patent application shall be deemed to be designated in the request for grant of a European patent. 
(2)The designation of a Contracting State may be subject to the payment of a designation fee. 

(3)The designation of a Contracting State may be withdrawn at any time up to the grant of the European patent. 

其他參考文章:
取得歐洲專利的指導方針(https://enpan.blogspot.com/2018/06/blog-post_27.html
歐洲專利簡介V - London Agreement(https://enpan.blogspot.com/2008/12/v-london-agreement.html

Ron

修正歐洲專利申請案增加未被檢索的特徵

筆記

本篇筆記參考「Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office」,以及過去報導,加上一些同事回饋客戶提供的意見。

在歐洲專利實務中,專利申請程序中「修正」是個頗為重要的議題,修正一般的規定可以從過去報導得出,本篇主要討論「如果修正被認定是「超出」原經過檢索的專利範圍」,會怎樣?

先問,(1)有否新事物(new matter)?再問(2)與原本經檢索的專利範圍之間是否具有單一性(unity)?

答案是:如果沒有新增新事物,也與原本經檢索專利範圍之間具有單一性,就符合修正規定

[討論]
歐洲專利審查程序中,很特別的地方是,會先經過檢索單位(search division)進行專利檢索,提供檢索報告,還會伴隨初步審查意見,其中可能會報導單一性、明確性、新穎性、進步性等各項議題;之後,經過申請人回覆後,才會到審查單位(examination division)根據檢索報告進行實際審查,作出一份實際審查報告。

所述「修正超出原經過檢索的專利範圍」的意思是,在回應檢索報告或是實際審查報告時,申請人作出「超過原本申請時專利範圍」的修正,那歐洲專利局如何回應?

幾個相關規定:
(1)申請修正時,申請人應表示修訂的部份是依據原申請內容,若審查委員認為修正不合規定,應提出校正要求,並要求一個月內提出(重點一,申請人要表明這個修正沒有new matter,但即便有,也有提出校正的機會)。
(2)修改的權利範圍應不能非關經檢索範圍下的發明概念之外的內容,特別是不能關於"尚未檢索“的特徵,也不能包含因為單一性而未審查的其他獨立範圍(重點二,可增補修正的特徵應該是要在經過檢索的涵蓋範圍中)。

過去也曾經收到這類OA:歐洲專利申請案修正不得加入未經檢索的特徵(https://enpan.blogspot.com/2012/11/blog-post_8.html

不過,特別的是,上述規定(2)中並不是那麼「古板」的規定,列舉曾經探討過得歐洲訴願案1636/12,在此案中,申請人對這個議題勝訴,該案申請人在修正時加入「未經檢索」的內容,雖被駁回,但是在訴願階段勝訴,有幾個小結論:

(1)經申請人修正的專利範圍將一些被檢索的權利範圍併項,並改寫其中特徵(說明書有支持),更將未被檢索的範圍改寫為依附為Claim 1的範圍,是被接受的(主要理由是仍在符合單一性的專利範圍之下)。
(2)但針對「未被檢索」的範圍,申請人有可能仍要花錢檢索與審查:修正後專利範圍包括了未在最初檢索範圍內的技術特徵,因此申請人需要提出額外的檢索費用作出額外的檢索報告,才能繼續審查其專利性(重點三,即便同意,有可能要額外繳費)。

我個人的實務經驗是,歐洲專利審查委員的寬容度算「」,即便修正時加入原來專利申請範圍沒有的特徵,但是在符合「單一性」的要求下,不會隨意認定申請人提出的修正是「未經檢索的範圍」。

因此,「單一性」與「新事物」是天條,若在符合單一性未加入新事物的情況下,修正加入原本未記載於申請專利範圍但有被說明書支持的技術內容,是被允許的


依照各種有關修正的法條規定(如以下一點非專業解釋),如Rule 137(5),原則上,是不允許修正加入未被檢索的技術特徵,但是不允許的理由是「修正加入的部分未與原本經過檢索的發明之間具有單一性

根據歐洲專利審查基準(Guidelines for Examination)進一步規定(針對審查委員意見),(重點四)修正時加入的技術特徵應:(1)原本已在專利範圍的特徵;或是(2)對原本專利範圍技術效果有貢獻的特徵。

反過來說,從審查基準得出不符Rule 137(5)的修正規定如下,這類特徵應以「分割案」提出申請(重點五)。
(1)更換原本專利範圍中的技術特徵(即便是從說明書中得出);
(2)修正加入與原本專利範圍技術效果無關的特徵。

[法條簡單解釋]
The European Patent Convention
Part VII – Implementing Regulations to Part VII of the Convention
Chapter VI – Amendments and corrections

Rule 137 – Amendment of the European patent application

(5)
Amended claims may not relate to unsearched subject-matter which does not combine with the originally claimed invention or group of inventions to form a single general inventive concept. Nor may they relate to subject-matter not searched in accordance with Rule 62a or Rule 63.
(修正專利範圍不能關於「沒有與原本發明連結的"未被檢索的專利標的"而在單一廣義發明概念之下」)
Rule 62a有關多個獨立請求項;Rule 63有關未完成檢索

Rule 63 Incomplete search
(1)
If the European Patent Office considers that the European patent application fails to such an extent to comply with this Convention that it is impossible to carry out a meaningful search regarding the state of the art on the basis of all or some of the subject-matter claimed, it shall invite the applicant to file, within a period of two months, a statement indicating the subject-matter to be searched. (若檢索單位無法作出有意義的檢索,要求申請人回應)
(2)
If the statement under paragraph 1 is not filed in due time, or if it is not sufficient to overcome the deficiency noted under paragraph 1, the European Patent Office shall either issue a reasoned declaration stating that the European patent application fails to such an extent to comply with this Convention that it is impossible to carry out a meaningful search regarding the state of the art on the basis of all or some of the subject-matter claimed or, as far as is practicable, draw up a partial search report. The reasoned declaration or the partial search report shall be considered, for the purposes of subsequent proceedings, as the European search report. (若檢索單位不能作出有意義檢索,專利局仍會盡量繼續審查程序,包括提出部分檢索報告)

(3)
When a partial search report has been drawn up, the Examining Division shall invite the applicant to restrict the claims to the subject-matter searched unless it finds that the objection under paragraph 1 was not justified.  (當檢索單位作出部分檢索報告,審查單位可要求申請人限制專利範圍到檢索的標的上)

Guidelines for Examination
Part H – Amendments and Corrections
Chapter II – Admissibility of amendments – general rules

6. Amendments relating to unsearched matter – Rule 137(5)
6.2
Subject-matter taken from the description 
Within the framework of Art. 123(2) and Art. 82, Rule 137(5), first sentence, should be construed as permitting any limitation of searched subject-matter which is unitary with the originally claimed subject-matter, irrespective of whether the technical feature(s) used for the limitation has/have been searched. (有關Rule 137(5)的可修正條件不是關於加入的技術特徵是否被檢索,而是允許與原本專利標的之間符合單一性的任何修正)(重點六


Thus, the addition to a claim of a technical feature which further defines an element that was already a feature of the original main claim or makes a contribution to the effect(s) of the features of the originally claimed invention(s) and which was expressly not searched but was disclosed in the context of the invention in the application as filed (usually in the description) will not result in an amended claim lacking a single general inventive concept with respect to the originally claimed invention(s). Consequently no objection under Rule 137(5), first sentence, should be raised in these circumstances, even though an additional search may be required (see C‑IV, 7.2). 重要:修正時加入的技術特徵應:(1)原本專利範圍已有的特徵;或是(2)對原本專利範圍技術效果有貢獻的特徵,即便這樣的特徵並未被檢索,也不會導致被認為是缺乏單一性的修正)(重點七
If amended claims are directed to subject-matter which has not been searched because it only appeared in the description (and the search division did not find it appropriate to extend the search to this subject-matter, see B‑III, 3.5) and which does not combine with the originally claimed and searched invention or group of inventions to form a single general inventive concept, such amendments are not admissible. (如果修正的專利範圍涉及未被檢索的標的,也沒有與原本標的連結(combine)以建立單一發明概念,修正不會被允許)
In other words, in order to assess whether or not amended claims fulfill the requirements of Rule 137(5), first sentence, the examining division needs to establish first whether or not the subject-matter to which they relate has or should have been searched (see B‑III, 3.5) and second whether or not an objection of lack of unity would have been raised if the amended claims had been present in the set of claims on file at the time of the search. (審查單位要判斷修正部分是否已被檢索,以及是否與原本檢索後的專利範圍之間具有單一性)
As a consequence, an objection under Rule 137(5), first sentence, will normally arise if the applicant attempts to replace a technical feature contained in a claim with a different technical feature taken from the description. (若申請人通過修正更換技術特徵,不符修正規定)(重點八
Similarly, an objection under Rule 137(5), first sentence, would also arise if a technical feature taken from the description which has an effect unrelated to the effect(s) of the features of the originally claimed invention(s) were added to a claim. (若修正加入的特徵無關於原本專利範圍的技術效果,不符修正規定)(重點九
If an objection under Rule 137(5), first sentence is raised, the applicant should be informed that he may continue to pursue such subject-matter only in the form of a divisional application under Art. 76. (以上所述不符規定的更換技術特徵的部分應以分割案提出申請)
The situation described above is different from amendments corresponding to an invention originally claimed but not searched under Rule 64, or Rule 164(1) or (2), which are dealt with in H‑II, 7.2. (Rule 64/164指檢索時已被認定不具單一性的專利範圍,並無關Rule 137(5)的修正規定,表示,加入原申請專利範圍中未被檢索範圍的特徵的修正仍是依照上述「是否滿足單一性」的條件審理)
Applicants should bear in mind that the examining procedure should be brought to a conclusion in as few actions as possible. So the examining division may exercise its right not to admit further amendments under Rule 137(3) (see H‑II, 2.3). (即便符合各種規定,專利審查基準仍賦予審查單位判斷是否接受修正內容的裁量權)(重點十
For Euro-PCT applications where the EPO acted as ISA or as SISA, the examining division has to issue an invitation under Rule 164(2) for any now claimed but unsearched invention contained in the originally filed application documents (description, claims and drawings, if any) which are to serve as the basis for examination upon expiry of the six-month time limit set in the communication under Rule 161 or Rule 162 (see C‑III, 2.3).

過去有關歐洲專利修正的報導:
- 歐洲專利說明書修正(https://enpan.blogspot.com/2011/04/blog-post_16.html
- 歐洲專利修正筆記(https://enpan.blogspot.com/2014/07/blog-post_28.html
- EPO專利申請時的修正規定(https://enpan.blogspot.com/2017/01/epo.html
- 歐洲專利檢索後的修正筆記(https://enpan.blogspot.com/2015/08/blog-post_13.html
- 歐洲專利申請案修正不得加入未經檢索的特徵(https://enpan.blogspot.com/2012/11/blog-post_8.html

有關修正到未被檢索的專利範圍的案例:歐洲訴願T 1636/12(https://enpan.blogspot.com/2017/04/t-163612.html

Ron

2018年11月27日 星期二

法院可能含糊帶過101議題 - Digital Media Technologies, Inc. v. Netflix, Inc., et al.

本次為CAFC撤回上訴(AFFIRMED. See Fed. Cir. R. 36)的案例「Digital Media Technologies, Inc. v. Netflix, Inc., et al.」討論,當一個法律議題(如本案101)變得「沒有意見」,即便其中有含糊帶過、過多主觀意識的疑慮,仍可能表示上下級法院見解漸漸趨於一致

案件資訊(CAFC):
原告/上訴人/專利權人:DIGITAL MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES, INC.
被告/被上訴人:NETFLIX, INC., AMAZON.COM, INC., HULU, LLC
系爭專利:U.S. Patent No. 8964764

本案緣起專利權人Digital Media對Netflix提出侵權告訴,Netflix提出系爭專利不符美國專利法35U.S.C.101專利適格性的請願(motion),地方法院作出同意請願、撤銷專利權的決定。

系爭專利'764提出一種多媒體網路系統,具有內容導入、導出與整合的功能,可以讓使用者方便地、安全地上傳與下載多媒體內容,而其中是否符合美國專利法35U.S.C.101專利適格性,就看其中系爭專利範圍Claim 1的內容。

1. A multimedia system, comprising:
an external control server configured to:
receive a request from a client device via a wide area network requesting protected content to be sent to the client device;
receive client device authentication information from the client device, the client device authentication information comprising at least information related to a user authentication and a device authorization;
validate the client device authentication information according to predetermined criteria;
send protected content location information to the client device, the protected content location information being associated with a location of the protected content;
encrypt, in response to receiving a request for a content license from the client device via the wide area network, the request comprising information related to a location of the content license and being based on a determination by the client device that the protected content is encrypted and requires a content license, the content license using a public key associated with the client device, the content license comprising a content key which the client device uses to decrypt the protected content and usage parameters specifying terms under which the protected content can be consumed; and
send the encrypted content license to the client device, the client device using a private key associated with the client device to decrypt the content license and using the content key to decrypt the protected content for use according to usage parameters specified by the content license;
and
an external content server configured to:
receive a request for the protected content from the client device, the request comprising the protected content location information provided by the external control server; and
send the protected content to the client device.

這個專利範圍界定的多媒體系統包括有外部控制伺服器以及外部內容伺服器,控制的部分包括接收請求後,接收認證資訊,確認認證資訊後,傳送保護內容位置資訊到發出請求的客戶端裝置,之後根據要取得的內容進行加密,外部內容伺服器則再傳送到客戶端裝置。

特別的是,法院提出一個對應專利範圍的範例:一個客戶要以其平板電腦觀看有版權的電影,可使用隨選視訊供應者,電腦儲存在此供應者的伺服器,讓客戶連線,開始下載。被告在這樣的解釋下主張「系爭專利為抽象,以及發明僅是限制授權用戶看電影的習知技術」。

根據許多101議題相關的法院案例,特別是衍生出的TWO-STEP測試,即便專利被認定為抽象概念,仍需要判斷是否專利範圍具有可以轉換抽象概念為可專利應用的進步概念(inventive concept),或說專利範圍中有否額外元件(additional element)產生可以「實質超越」抽象概念的效果,如果有(inventive concept、additional element),就為專利適格的發明。("whether it contains an ‘inventive concept’ sufficient to ‘transform’ the claimed abstract idea into a patent-eligible application")


在上述TWO-STEP測試中,step one (2A)是判斷發明是否為「抽象概念」?本案中,傳遞被版權與加密保護的內容被視為抽象概念

在step two(2B),判斷專利是否包括「進步概念(inventive concept)」?本案中,系爭專利範圍中的特徵被認為是公知、常規與習知的活動。

這裡,法院判決中提到,專利範圍相對習知的伺服器與客戶端傳送請求的技術沒有新穎特徵,因而沒有進步特徵,其中認證存取內容的權限也不是進步特徵。這樣的看法引起爭議,除了沒有正確解釋專利範圍外,也是分析101時常常迷失的地方:混淆了法律議題(101為法律議題)與事實議題(102, 103)

其中很多爭議段落,列舉幾個:




在本次法院意見中,似乎沒有通過解釋專利範圍(參考說明書、審查歷史)來確認是否為「抽象概念」,以及後續判斷是否有inventive concept!

編按,根據過去的報導,判斷申請專利範圍中是否具有significantly more的額外元件是要:

(1)「評估所述額外元件(additional elements)的 意義」,並(2)「識別出額外元件與評估他們的意義:得出請求項中的進步的概念(inventive concept)」,之後,(3)考量這些額外元件的個別或組合以評估是否專利範圍的整體(as a whole)為實質超越(significantly more)抽象概念。

(補充)可參考過去報導:
INVENTIVE CONCEPT的意思不是新穎與進步性 - Two-Way Media v. Comcast (Fed. Cir. 2017)(https://enpan.blogspot.com/2017/11/inventive-concept-two-way-media-v.html

重要:inventive concept判斷是看專利範圍通過解釋後是否為一般公知、常規與習知的技術?"The claims contained no saving inventive concept because although they recited some computer components, they required only ordinary functionality of these components."

(補充)產生「實質超越」抽象概念效果的額外元件有:
https://enpan.blogspot.com/2018/07/101.html
  1. 改善其他技術或技術領域。
  2. 改善電腦功能。
  3. 在抽象概念上,或是通過特定機器(particular machine):(1)不能是一般目的電腦執行一般電腦功能;(2)不能僅加入用語"apply it“或是"實施抽象概念的等效用語;(3)不能僅是在電腦中實現抽象概念的指令。
  4. 轉換特定物品為不同的狀態或事物的效果。
  5. 加入"非公知‘常規與習知"的特定限制。
  6. 加入非習知的步驟而可限定專利範圍為有用的應用上(不能僅是加入非重要的額外方案活動,如資料採集)。
  7. 加入有意義限制到特定技術領域,而能使得專利範圍超越其一般抽象概念的使用。

(重要)這些都是要基於「解釋申請專利範圍」的過程才能判斷的,不能一味地用自己的主觀判斷

最後地方法院作出同意專利不具適格性的請願,案件經專利權人上訴CAFC,CAFC沒有審理意見(同意地院決定),撤銷上訴。

my two cents:
雖然法院結論可能是對的,但是過程中少了足夠的論述、解釋,仍是不會服氣的。

同意被告請願的法院決定:
http://www.ipwatchdog.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Digital-Media-101-rejection.pdf

參考資料:
http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2018/11/20/cafc-rule-36-patent-eligibility-loss/id=103286/

Ron