2019年12月6日 星期五

美國專利法第119條筆記

筆記

35 U.S.C. 119(a)
同人(代表或經讓渡)以相同發明在國外已申請(最早申請案),當在最早申請案申請日後12個月內提出美國申請案時,可以享有與最早申請案申請日的好處(優先權),若在非故意延遲的條件下,可以延長兩個月(至14個月)。

35 U.S.C. 119(b)
主張優先權時,應指出先前申請案的國家、國外申請號、日期等,專利局長官可要求申請人提出國外申請案有效副本(官方優先權文件)、翻譯(非英文的話)以及相關資訊。



35 U.S.C. 119(c)
美國申請案的國外優先權若為同一國另外的申請案,而非基於第一申請案,那在所主張優先權案的其他更早申請案應要撤銷、拋棄或不予公開。

35 U.S.C. 119(d)
經發明人認證的國外申請案,申請人在提出後申請案時有權主張優先權(Paris Convention)。

35 U.S.C. 119(e)
美國臨時申請案(provisional application,35 U.S.C. 111(b))在符合揭露申請與規定時,其發明人可在臨時申請案申請日後12個月內提出正式申請案(non-provisional application),並在涵蓋相同內容的情況下主張臨時申請案優先權。同樣地,若為非故意延遲,12個月可以再延長兩個月。期間若有修正,專利局主管將判斷是否仍符合優先權較早申請案的規定。若12個月期限最後一天落於假日,將順延一天。

若較早申請案為國際申請案(35 U.S.C. 363),12的月優先權期限依照相關合約規定延長。


119(e)與120為同一規定:MPEP 211 Claiming the Benefit of an Earlier Filing Date Under 35 U.S.C. 120 and 119(e)

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 filed in the United States, or as provided by section 363 or 385 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. The Director may establish procedures, including the requirement for payment of the fee specified in section 41(a)(7), to accept an unintentionally delayed submission of an amendment under this section.

35 U.S.C. 119(f)
關於在WTO會員國申請的植物品種申請案,也享有上述規定(a)-(c)的優先權以及要求。

35 U.S.C. 119(g)
定義WTO(世界貿易組織)會員國與「UPOV Contracting Party」(植物品種保護國際公約)。


----35 U.S.C. 119---------
https://www.bitlaw.com/source/35usc/119.html
以下119(a)僅適用AIA後申請案(first inventor to file application),此條刪掉的內容為:"; but no patent shall be granted on any application for patent for an invention which had been patented or described in a printed publication in any country more than one year before the date of the actual filing of the application in this country, or which had been in public use or on sale in this country more than one year prior to such filing"

35 U.S.C. 119 BENEFIT OF EARLIER FILING DATE; RIGHT OF PRIORITY.

  • (a) An application for patent for an invention filed in this country by any person who has, or whose legal representatives or assigns have, previously regularly filed an application for a patent for the same invention in a foreign country which affords similar privileges in the case of applications filed in the United States or to citizens of the United States, or in a WTO member country, shall have the same effect as the same application would have if filed in this country on the date on which the application for patent for the same invention was first filed in such foreign country, if the application in this country is filed within 12 months from the earliest date on which such foreign application was filed. The Director may prescribe regulations, including the requirement for payment of the fee specified in section 41(a)(7), pursuant to which the 12-month period set forth in this subsection may be extended by an additional 2 months if the delay in filing the application in this country within the 12-month period was unintentional.
  • (b)
    • (1) No application for patent shall be entitled to this right of priority unless a claim is filed in the Patent and Trademark Office, identifying the foreign application by specifying the application number on that foreign application, the intellectual property authority or country in or for which the application was filed, and the date of filing the application, at such time during the pendency of the application as required by the Director.
    • (2) The Director may consider the failure of the applicant to file a timely claim for priority as a waiver of any such claim. The Director may establish procedures, including the requirement for payment of the fee specified in section 41(a)(7), to accept an unintentionally delayed claim under this section.
    • (3) The Director may require a certified copy of the original foreign application, specification, and drawings upon which it is based, a translation if not in the English language, and such other information as the Director considers necessary. Any such certification shall be made by the foreign intellectual property authority in which the foreign application was filed and show the date of the application and of the filing of the specification and other papers.
  • (c) In like manner and subject to the same conditions and requirements, the right provided in this section may be based upon a subsequent regularly filed application in the same foreign country instead of the first filed foreign application, provided that any foreign application filed prior to such subsequent application has been withdrawn, abandoned, or otherwise disposed of, without having been laid open to public inspection and without leaving any rights outstanding, and has not served, nor thereafter shall serve, as a basis for claiming a right of priority.
  • (d) Applications for inventors’ certificates filed in a foreign country in which applicants have a right to apply, at their discretion, either for a patent or for an inventor’s certificate shall be treated in this country in the same manner and have the same effect for purpose of the right of priority under this section as applications for patents, subject to the same conditions and requirements of this section as apply to applications for patents, provided such applicants are entitled to the benefits of the Stockholm Revision of the Paris Convention at the time of such filing.
  • (e)
    • (1) An application for patent filed under section 111(a) or section 363 for an invention disclosed in the manner provided by section 112(a) (other than the requirement to disclose the best mode) in a provisional application filed under section 111(b), by an inventor or inventors named in the provisional application, shall have the same effect, as to such invention, as though filed on the date of the provisional application filed under section 111(b), if the application for patent filed under section 111(a) or section 363 is filed not later than 12 months after the date on which the provisional application was filed and if it contains or is amended to contain a specific reference to the provisional application. The Director may prescribe regulations, including the requirement for payment of the fee specified in section 41(a)(7), pursuant to which the 12-month period set forth in this subsection may be extended by an additional 2 months if the delay in filing the application under section 111(a) or section 363 within the 12-month period was unintentional. No application shall be entitled to the benefit of an earlier filed provisional application under this subsection unless an amendment containing the specific reference to the earlier filed provisional 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 subsection. The Director may establish procedures, including the payment of the fee specified in section 41(a)(7), to accept an unintentionally delayed submission of an amendment under this subsection.
    • (2) A provisional application filed under section 111(b) may not be relied upon in any proceeding in the Patent and Trademark Office unless the fee set forth in subparagraph (A) or (C) of section 41(a)(1) has been paid.
    • (3) If the day that is 12 months after the filing date of a provisional application falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday within the District of Columbia, the period of pendency of the provisional application shall be extended to the next succeeding secular or business day. For an application for patent filed under section 363 in a Receiving Office other than the Patent and Trademark Office, the 12-month and additional 2-month period set forth in this subsection shall be extended as provided under the treaty and Regulations as defined in section 351.
  • (f) Applications for plant breeder’s rights filed in a WTO member country (or in a foreign UPOV Contracting Party) shall have the same effect for the purpose of the right of priority under subsections (a) through (c) of this section as applications for patents, subject to the same conditions and requirements of this section as apply to applications for patents.
  • (g) As used in this section—
    • (1) the term "WTO member country" has the same meaning as the term is defined in section 104(b)(2); and
    • (2) the term "UPOV Contracting Party" means a member of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants.
-----------------------------

Ron

2019年12月5日 星期四

泡泡密度的揭露與進步性 - 歐洲訴願T 0999/17

本案例可用來探討歐洲訴願中討論的進步性與揭露議題。

案件資訊(T 0999/17):
歐洲專利申請號:06791423.4(對應美國專利:US7875761
歐洲專利公開號:EP1931289
訴願決定日:10.9.2019(歐洲格式)

相關法律:
EPC Art 56(進步性)

EPC Art 100(b)(可據以實施性)

本案為一個無效異議的判決,上訴歐洲訴願委員會的議題為發明是否具有進步性以及說明書揭露是否滿足可據以實施的規定。

系爭案名稱為邊角的泡泡(BEVELLED FOAM),這是傷口壓力繃帶的改良技術,提出一種凝膠中「斜邊泡沫敷料(foam dressing with a bevelled edge)」,因為邊角泡沫的密度高於中央部分,會造成傷口部分滲出凝膠阻塞,此發明提出一種不黏的泡沫敷料,具有不透水的襯層,此傷口敷料可應用在使用繃帶治療靜脈潰瘍,可以減少使用痕跡。




系爭案技術特徵關於泡泡敷料(dressing)的特性,就在Claim 1的最後一句話:


上述Claim 1中界定「中央泡泡的密度」大於100公斤/立方米,附屬項除了密度外,還界定出泡泡的範圍尺度,異議者主張沒有界定上限,或是無法讓人理解其所佔據的體積,這樣是否不滿足揭露規定?

專利權人在訴願階段(口審階段)提出主要請求(main request)以及多個次要請求(auxiliary request),主要請求維持上述範圍,次要請求有不同的修正。

次要請求A-1,進一步界定出泡沫敷料的密度上限("小於400公斤/立方米")。

次要請求A-2,界定泡沫敷料直接接觸傷口的特徵("the foam dressing has a wound-contacting surface for providing direct contact between said foam dressing and a wound.")。

次要請求A-3,界定泡沫的化學特性("the foam is a hydrophilic polyether based polyurethane")。

次要請求A-4,提出更細節泡沫的特性:


進步性:

對於「進步性」議題,在訴願理由中,先釐清要解決的問題,很重要的爭點之一是「先前技術(closest prior art)的技術目的教示系爭案要解決問題?」

"During the oral proceedings before the board, the appellant defined the problem underlying the patent-in-suit as to provide alternative foam dressings that address the problem of leakage and excess pressure."

歐洲訴願委員會認為最接近先前技術(document 19)有描述到滲出的問題,認為系爭案發明對於相關領域的技術人員而言為顯而亦見地提出如系爭案發明的解決方案,使得判斷依據document 19,系爭案Claim 1不具進步性。

也就是說,由於先前技術也解決滲出問題,若發明僅是「改變了泡泡密度」算是簡單的,使得系爭案Claim 1(main request)並不具備「進步性」

經查其他次要請求A1-A3,都是討論泡沫的特性,同樣也認為不具進步性。

這裡有個話題是「convergence」,好像可以翻為收斂,也可以翻為「一致性」,就是當訴願人提起新的request時,會看看與先前request是否一致,或說是否有收斂議題,如果沒有,就會否決新的request。

關於之後提出的次要請求A4,原本審查意見是不同意這個「沒有一致/收斂議題」的次要請求A-4,但是訴願人撤回了其他次要請求(包括刪除多項的請求項),使得訴願委員認為沒有理由不接受這個A-4。

一旦「收斂」後(訴願人自己限縮議題、撤銷一些請求、刪除一些專利範圍),訴願委員欣然接受這個新的次要請求

最後,訴願決定認為最接近先前技術documents 19, 13等並沒有讓系爭案次要請求A-4為顯而易見,該請求的專利範圍具有進步性。

可據以實施性:

關於可據以實施的議題(Sufficiency of disclosure),異議人主張相關領域技術人員很困難地判斷出泡沫的體積,包括其密度的計算,使得無法據以實施該發明。

然而,對此主張,訴願委員認為,有關「Sufficiency of disclosure」,如EPC Art 84("The claims shall define the matter for which protection is sought. They shall be clear and concise and be supported by the description."),並不是法定異議理由,也就是異議人不能以此理由(EPC Art. 84)無效已經獲准的專利,且異議人也沒有證明系爭發明是不明確而讓相關領域技術人員無法據以實施。

關於異議人主張「泡沫密度是否可以被量測?」因為泡沫是會被破壞的,密度是動態的。

訴願委員的判斷是,「量測泡沫的密度」這個動作僅需要在製作過程中,而系爭案發明介定的是「特性」,在適當的參數下可以製作出特定密度的泡沫,這個判斷使得訴願否決了異議人提出的質疑(這...算頗為睿智的判斷)。

因此,根據以上判斷,訴願決定否決異議人提出的無法據以實施的理由


訴願決定:https://www.epo.org/law-practice/case-law-appeals/pdf/t170999eu1.pdf(備份:https://app.box.com/s/u4mezncgkms8d3b4zojnintxhwrud74a

my two cents:
從一篇訴願案可以學到一些訴願中的規定與判斷/決策邏輯。



Ron

2019年12月4日 星期三

基本經濟活動即便是新的也不可專利 - In re Greenstein (Fed. Cir. 2019)

In re Greenstein (Fed. Cir. 2019)

補充:或許「基本經濟活動即便是新的也不可專利 」這句話會有誤會,但是當發明被認定是fundamental business/economic activity,自然就落入abstract idea的範疇,如果發明又僅是用一般電腦實現自動化,就...掰了。

本案訴願到CAFC約花了4年,其中最久的是在提出訴願理由後在申請人回覆原審查委員回應後,PTAB在近兩年後作出訴願決定,這個耗時又沒效率的情況真是令人沮喪,所以常常訴願是一個最沒辦法的辦法,卻仍是進入法院救濟前的必要程序(除非所有爭端都在訴願解決)。

案件資訊:
上訴人:IN RE: MARK ALFRED GREENSTEIN
系爭案:12/851,021

本案緣起PTAB同意USPTO作出系爭案(12/851,021)不具專利適格性(35 U.S.C § 101)以及不具非顯而易見性(35 U.S.C. § 103)的審查意見,專利申請人Mark Alfred Greenstein上訴CAFC。

系爭案'021關於一種作出較好決策的方法,這個技術針對退休人士,幫忙退休人數收集退休的風險,以提出財務分配(降低倚賴保險)的方法。專利Claim 1提出投資收益分配的方法,專利範圍嘗試將這個「不可專利的抽象概念」轉為有具體特徵的方法,包括儲存投資者的個人資訊到資料庫中,考量其中資訊以判斷投資收益的初始分配,通知分配建議給投資者,以電腦提供投資者作選擇,以此輸入額外資訊到資料庫中,改變投資組合,使用電腦根據額外資訊判斷投資收益的分配,根據投資者年齡的改變使用電腦「重新分配」投資收益。(編按,這個專利範圍讓我直接聯想到Bilski案)

1. A method for allocating investment returns for at least one investor which is different from at least one other investor who also invests in the same investment vehicle comprising the steps of:
storing personal information corresponding to the investor in a computerized database;
taking account of the information in determining an initial allocation of investment returns;
communicating the allocation of investment returns to the investor or a person acting on behalf of the investor;
providing by a computer the investor or a person acting on behalf of the investor with a choice to provide additional information which is inputted into the computerized data base or to change the allocation;
using at least one computer to determine the allocation of investment returns based on any additional information provided by the investor or on behalf of the investor; and
using a computer to reallocate investment returns in response to a change in age of the investor.

這個處理財務危機的技術很準確地命中101議題,唯一可能的創新是提出一個「一般目的電腦中執行的軟體程式」。

本件系爭案12/851,021在PTAB訴願算走的很完整,可以當作學習教材:

09-14-2015 - Notice of Appeal
12-14-2015 - Appeal Brief
04-27-2016 - Examiner's Answer
06-27-2016 - Reply Brief
02-01-2018 - Patent Board Decision
03-28-2018 - Request for Rehearing of Patent Board Decision
06-11-2018 - Request for Rehearing of Patent Board Decision
10-12-2018 - Appeal to CAFC
06-10-2019 - Decision by CAFC - Affirmed

07-23-2019 - Petition for Rehearing to CAFC (denied)

訴願決定:

當中有幾個有趣的PTAB或法院意見。

101
CAFC同意PTAB意見(PTAB同意USPTO審查意見),認為系爭案專利範圍並未有進步特徵(inventive concept),理由是其中記載的電腦技術僅為資料分析的一般功能,在其領域中僅為抽象概念。


專利申請人引述DDR Holding案作為答辯依據,自然是因為此案例形成的判決表明「非簡單應用一般目的電腦技術實現一般目的」的電腦技術具有「inventive concept」的結論

本部落格報導:
商業方法可專利性?電腦軟體專利的生機 - DDR Holdings v. Hotels.com (Fed. 2014)案例討論(https://enpan.blogspot.com/2014/12/ddr-holdings-v-hotelscom-fed-2014.html

但USPTO/PTAB/CAFC一致判斷系爭案發明為使用一般目的電腦實現的基本經濟/商業活動的發明,屬於抽象概念。


法院對此結論是,系爭案發明僅將電腦作為儲存資料的一般工具,這些內容也可用紙筆記錄(電腦在此發明中僅是一個速度快、有效率以及用於自動化的目的而已,"using a computer to perform arithmetic does not provide an inventive concept"。重要)

101/102
這裡有個不錯的觀念,當系爭案申請人答辯反對專利審查委員認為系爭案發明所記載重新平衡投資資金的技術為"習知"時,CAFC矯正這個觀念不是101議題,而混入了新穎性判斷。

- See Synopsys, Inc. v. Mentor Graphics Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2016) (“[A] claim for a new abstract idea is still an abstract idea.”)

CAFC同意PTAB關於101, 103, 112等決定。

my two cents:
我認為本案系爭案說明書極力想要證明與電腦技術的關係,並改善了電腦技術,而不僅是抽象的財務管理技術而已,應符合112,112這部分應該是OK。

關於101,本案明顯為「單純使用電腦一般功能」的技術,也就是僅使用了電腦處理數據的功能,技術也不用太複雜的電腦科技(大概一般計算機就好了)。

一連貫地從USPTO、PTAB,加上幾次復審請求,到上訴CAFC,都為一致的決定,這也是證明從上(法官)到下(審查委員)對此"明顯"的抽象的態度還算頗一致的。

看來這是一個"不缺錢"的申請人的案件,但就是有這樣的人試圖去衝撞法律規則,才會有很多題材與新的判決產生,甚至還可能造就了新的法律與遊戲規則。

判決文:

Ron

2019年12月3日 星期二

澳洲聯邦法院、巡迴法院

有興趣者,網路上很多有關澳洲法院架構的資訊,這裡僅因為搜尋了澳洲專利管轄時,得到的一些資訊,留下一些筆記。

澳洲與美國一樣為聯邦制,架構很像,有聯邦法院與州法院,聯邦法院包括了澳洲聯邦法院、澳洲家庭法院以及澳洲聯邦巡迴法院,但行使司法權時,從wikipedia介紹來看其實很不同。以下是一點點筆記。

- 澳洲聯邦巡迴法院 - Federal Circuit Court of Australia(FCCA):http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au/


澳洲聯邦巡迴法院於1999年設立,所管轄的智慧財產權議題包括著作權、設計、商標與植物品種等民事糾紛(缺了"專利"),判決涵蓋禁制令、損害賠償等,相關網頁:http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fccweb/gfl/intellectual-property

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- 澳洲聯邦法院(Federal Court of Australia,FCA):https://www.fedcourt.gov.au/,其智慧財產相關管轄涵蓋"專利"、商標、著作權、設計、"積體電路佈局"、植物品種等,FCA就是專利方面的上訴法院,包括專利權、侵權爭議等議題。




看來,要找澳洲"專利"相關判決就是在「澳洲聯邦法院」,判決搜尋在:https://www.fedcourt.gov.au/digital-law-library/judgments/search





以上,澳洲聯邦法院為巡迴法院的上級法院,澳洲聯邦巡迴法院為分擔聯邦法院的案件,前身為「澳洲地方行政法院」,處理比較不複雜的案件,如隱私權、著作權、工業設計、人權、消費者糾紛與行政法,不包括"專利"(可能真的比較複雜)。

上述澳洲聯邦巡迴法院的前身為:Federal Magistrates Court of Australia


(圖案源自:https://s3.amazonaws.com/libapps/accounts/116/images/australia_1.jpg

曾經報導的澳洲智慧財產案例:
澳洲原住民著作權爭議(https://enpan.blogspot.com/2019/06/blog-post_19.html
泳裝設計的著作權爭議(https://enpan.blogspot.com/2014/07/blog-post_4650.html

關於澳洲法院系統可參考:
https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/澳大利亚政府
https://wenku.baidu.com/view/e0a7ac2f4b35eefdc8d33385.html
https://www.imrg.org/australia-legalities/

Ron

2019年11月30日 星期六

訴訟中的「prevailing party」? - B.E. Tech, LLC v. Facebook, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2019)

訴訟案被撤銷,Facebook是勝方(prevailing party) - B.E. Tech, LLC v. Facebook, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2019)

本篇就告訴我們何謂訴訟中的「prevailing party」?

案件資訊:
原告/上訴人/專利權人:B.E. TECHNOLOGY, L.L.C.
被告/被上訴人:FACEBOOK, INC.
系爭專利:US6,628,314
判決日:October 9, 2019

系爭專利US6,628,314關於一種目標性廣告的電腦介面的方法與裝置,學一下這類專利的一種寫法,除了Claim 1界定的「A computer-readable memory for use by a computer to provide a user of the computer with an automatically-upgradeable software application」,系爭請求項主要為Claim 11「A method of providing demographically-targeted advertising to a computer user」。

Claim 11:
11. A method of providing demographically-targeted advertising to a computer user, comprising the steps of:
providing a server that is accessible via a computer network,
permitting a computer user to access said server via said computer network,
acquiring demographic information about the user, said demographic information including information specifically provided by the user in response to a request for said demographic information,
providing the user with download access to computer software that, when run on a computer, displays advertising content, records computer usage information concerning the user's utilization of the computer, and periodically requests additional advertising content,
transferring a copy of said software to the computer in response to a download request by the user,
providing a unique identifier to the computer, wherein said identifier uniquely identifies information sent over said computer network from the computer to said server,
associating said unique identifier with demographic information in a database,
selecting advertising content for transfer to the computer in accordance with the demographic information associated with said unique identifier;
transferring said advertising content from said server to the computer for display by said program,
periodically acquiring said unique identifier and said computer usage information recorded by said software from the computer via said computer network, and
associating said computer usage information with said demographic information using said unique identifier.

本案緣起B.E. Technology公司於2012年向Facebook提起侵權訴訟,當時同列為被告的還有Microsoft與Google,這些被告"大人"們顯然不好惹,就連翻提出多個IPR來弄這個系爭專利。地院即等待IPR結果,其中有三件最終決定判定系爭專利無效。B.E.提起上訴,CAFC先對Microsoft決定,又撤銷多個與Google的上訴議題,最後保留了Facebook案。

Facebook先前在地方法院中提起請願,B.E.同意撤銷,把所有系爭專利範圍刪除,訴訟標的就消失了,也就不用繼續處理侵權議題,不過,這段時間Facebook提起返回訴訟費用,但被地方法院拒絕,不過經更新請願,地院最終還是同意B.E.提給Facebook 4,424美元(法庭費用),因為Facebook在此訴訟中為勝方/優勢方(prevailing party)。

依照聯邦民事規則,若撤銷訴訟具有損害與費用(dismissal with prejudice and costs),費用是要award給prevailing party的。


----------------------
[法條]
Rule 54 - Judgment; Costs
Rule 54 (d) Costs; Attorney’s Fees.
(1) Costs Other Than Attorney’s Fees. Unless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs—other than attorney’s fees—should be allowed to the prevailing party. But costs against the United States, its officers, and its agencies may be imposed only to the extent allowed by law. The clerk may tax costs on 14 days’ notice. On motion served within the next 7 days, the court may review the clerk’s action.
(2) Attorney’s Fees.
(A) Claim to Be by Motion. A claim for attorney’s fees and related nontaxable expenses must be made by motion unless the substantive law requires those fees to be proved at trial as an element of damages.
另一相似專利法:

35 U.S.C. 285 ATTORNEY FEES.

The court in exceptional cases may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party.
----------------------

雖是小錢,B.E. Technology公司仍對此決定提出上訴,仍是要爭個面子,畢竟B.E.為原告。

B.E.的意見是,訴訟案因為PTAB決定(IPR)而撤銷,Facebook不算「勝方(prevailing party)」,並且B.E.為了撤銷訴訟,還將系爭專利範圍全刪了,使得訴訟失去標的,主張Facebook不算勝方!

Facebook的答辯意見是,因為Facebook成功地抵制了B.E.的主張,因此Facebook算勝方

CAFC階段:

看一下Facebook的說法,也是法院採用的說法:地方法院是撤銷了訴訟,儘管不是因為其優勢,但仍是在司法的認可(judicial imprimatur)所作出的決定

 


(重要)這個看法也是隨著最高法院對於Buckhannon案作出的意見,當法院並未因為某一方的優勢作出判決,或僅是法院的一個命令,但是因為訴訟造成被告自願改變(voluntary change)得到預期的結果,使得該方仍是勝方(prevailing party


法院認同一種「催化」理論,也就是訴訟中雙方的法律關係中即便沒有司法認同的改變,但訴訟仍因為被告的改變帶來預期的結果,防守方的行為"催化"了訴訟結果,因此另一方仍判為勝方(prevailing party)。


不過,仍不是那個簡單,勝方的條件還是需要法院的認同。


"Thus,  the  Court  stated,  a “plaintiff who, by simply filing a nonfrivolous but nonetheless  potentially  meritless  lawsuit  (it  will  never  be  determined), has reached the ‘sought-after destination’ without obtaining  any  judicial  relief”  would  not  be  a  prevailing  party."


CRST為負面的案例:


編按,細節可看判決,也還有其他案例

回到本案,對於本案原告B.E.,即便拿出CRST來對應,法官厲害的是,不看CRST的結果,看的是過程如何論述勝方的條件,其中看的是如Facebook的一方是否有效抵擋了原告的主張,B.E.並無法拿出反對的說法。

CAFC同意地院判決。

 my two cents:

這篇對多數人來說其實是沒有多大的意義的,除非你面對了對方撤告但是又想要返還一些費用的情況,但我鍾情的是當中很多的邏輯思考,即便英文沒有好到什麼都看得懂,但仍感到很有趣。
判決文:http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/18-2356.Opinion.10-9-2019.pdf(備份:https://app.box.com/s/u034mmo7v6q61ql2ky0ervyk7n2aafql

資訊參考:
https://patentlyo.com/patent/2019/10/facebook-prevailing-dismissed.html

Ron

2019年11月29日 星期五

提起IPR的時間標準、遊戲的103議題 - Game and Technology v. Wargaming Group (Fir. Cir. 2019)

如果要異議一件「遊戲專利」,IPR...可惜不能主張不可專利事項,僅能針對102, 103議題,這就來比證據力了!順便看看「遊戲專利」怎麼寫?

案件資訊:
上訴人/訴訟原告/專利權人:GAME AND TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD. (GAT)
被上訴人:WARGAMING GROUP LIMITED, ACTIVISION BLIZZARD INC.
系爭專利:US7,682,243(IPR2017-01082
判決日:November 19, 2019

本案緣起GAT(專利權人/訴訟原告)向Wargaming提出侵權告訴,而Wargaming提起IPR反制,不過卻面對了是否「及時/立場」的問題,但PTAB判定本案IPR並未因為未時間而不適格,且判斷系爭專利不具非顯而易見性(35 U.S.C. § 103),GAT提起上訴。

[法條
35 U.S.C. § 315(b)]
35 U.S.C. 315 RELATION TO OTHER PROCEEDINGS OR ACTIONS.
...
(b) PATENT OWNER’S ACTION.—An inter partes review may not be instituted if the petition requesting the proceeding is filed more than 1 year after the date on which the petitioner, real party in interest, or privy of the petitioner is served with a complaint alleging infringement of the patent. The time limitation set forth in the preceding sentence shall not apply to a request for joinder under subsection (c).

(c) JOINDER.—If the Director institutes an inter partes review, the Director, in his or her discretion, may join as a party to that inter partes review any person who properly files a petition under section 311 that the Director, after receiving a preliminary response under section 313 or the expiration of the time for filing such a response, determines warrants the institution of an inter partes review under section 314.
...

系爭專利US7,682,243關於一種線上遊戲,遊戲的方法讓遊戲玩家可以修正其中角色與能力資訊。





Claim 1如下,描述pilot與unit的關聯。
1. An online game providing a method for providing a pilot and a unit associated with the pilot at an online game, the method comprising the steps of:
controlling an online game such that a player can manipulate a pilot and a unit associated with said pilot, said pilot being a game character operated by a player, said pilot representing the player, said unit being a virtual object controlled by the player;
maintaining a unit information database, the unit information database recording unit information on said unit, in which the unit information includes ability of said unit and sync point information;
maintaining a pilot information database, the pilot information database recording pilot information on said pilot, in which the pilot information includes a unit identifier indicating said unit associated with said pilot, ability of said pilot and the ability of said unit associated with said pilot;

receiving a request for update on first pilot ability information of a first pilot;
searching for unit identifier information associated with the first pilot by referring to the pilot information database;
searching for sync point information associated with the searched unit identifier information by referring to the unit information database; and

updating and recording the first pilot ability information and unit ability information associated therewith in accordance with the searched sync point information such that said ability of unit is changed proportionally to changes in ability of the pilot by referring to said sync point,
wherein said sync point information is a ratio of which changes in said ability of pilot are applied to said ability of unit, and said steps of searching for unit identifier information and of searching for sync point information are performed by a processor.

其實系爭專利說明書也承認在習知技術中遊戲玩家可以控制角色與其元件(unit,如上圖),但是專利權人宣稱習知技術中的角色與其元件為彼此獨立,也就是玩家角色能力與其元件不一定關聯,沒有直接關聯(編按,這個微小的差異大概只有真正的玩家(我不是)可以體會吧!),反之,系爭專利建立了兩者的關聯性。

判決書中列舉一個情境:「同步點(sync point)值為0.8,這個比值表示隨著玩家角色中的「勇氣點數(brave points)增加,其「攻擊力(attack power)也增加。

角色與其元件的定義:
1) Pilot. A pilot used in the present specification is a player character representing a gamer who im-ports his/her feelings in a game to continue the game. The gamer may control motions of a unit through the pilot.

2) Unit. A unit used in the present specification is an object operated by a control of a gamer, and the unit may be an object for continuing a game substantially, for example, a robot character. The unit may be a target for the gamer to import his/her feelings. Also, a concept of item belonging to the gamer may be applied to the unit.

遊戲的專利就用圖來看吧!

以下為原告GAT向地方法院提起Wargaming、Billzard等被告的產品與系爭專利的claim chart,在此列舉為被告暴雪(blizzard)的「魔獸世界(World of Warcraft)」,其中關於每一個專利元件對應的先前技術的圖案(摘錄幾張圖):







除了技術頗為有趣外,主要議題之一是「時間」,以下列舉判決書中指出的重要時間點:

Wargaming提出IPR的時間:March 13, 2017
系爭專利繫屬訴訟的時間為:July 9, 2015
GAT於December 10, 2015英國租用一個「process server」處理"Wargaming.net "的訴訟與來往信息,其中有些文件,但並未被法院認證,GAT的律師也發出副本給Wargaming在Cyprus辦公室。
February 11, 2016,Wargaming律師與GAT律師討論訴訟,Wargaming律師提出拋棄服務的聲明,願意與GAT達成協議,並會等到April 1, 2016回應訴訟。
March 15, 2016,Wargaming律師根據地院規定的時間出席,到了上述協議的April 1, 2016,Wargaming提出撤銷訴訟請願,理由是不當審判地(venue)或是原告不當主張權利。
Wargaming提起IPR異議程序:March 13, 2017



GAT回應此IPR異議提出已經不符合法的期限,當時在英國提起侵權訴訟的時間為:December 14, 2015,也就是開始serve的時間。

PTAB判斷提起IPR時間的標準是,提起IPR的時間是否超出訴訟「提起有效證據」的時間後一年內?

"...record presents competing evidence as to whether Wargaming.net LLP was served more than one year before the filing of the Petition."

PTAB判斷證據發展到可以解決事實議題時,即建立了時間基礎,上述期間建立了可以啟始IPR的條件,應參考上述在英國與賽普魯士的記錄(December 10, 2015),但其中法院並未認證(seal)相關文件,而PTAB是否啟始IPR的判斷都是依據法院的資料,因此在PTAB終判中認為,上述December 10, 2015並未建立「time bar」

"The Board determined that development of the record would be required to resolve the factual issues underlying the time bar, but it instituted the IPR in the interim."

另一議題為「非顯而易見性103」。

先前證據為「Levine and the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook」(畫面來源是Amazon.com(台灣)):


PTAB意見是,否決GAT宣稱的一些虛擬元件的主張,先前技術都相似地涵蓋了系爭專利中的虛擬元件與特性,如pilot ability、unit ability、sync point等,也都揭露了線上遊戲、資料庫等"具體"特徵,而判斷相關領域一般技術人員可以有足夠的動機結合上述兩個handbook而使得系爭專利因此為顯而易見的技術

案件上訴CAFC

法官認為,雖然35 U.S.C. § 315(b)並未明確地界定出期限是源自相關文件已經提出(served),但是認為PTAB適當地判斷time bar的啟始時間的分析(邏輯),法院的決定是,雖不見得同意,甚至認為GAT一些主張也對(因此接受上訴理由),但是還是認同PTAB的判斷是沒有錯的!



兩照律師討論時,雖有協議,但是法院認為還是沒有建立time bar,...在此忽略一些細節討論,還有非顯而易見性參考文獻使用已經影響新穎性的文件的不當問題,有興趣者可參看原判決文。

結論:IPR異議提出時間符合time bar條件,系爭專利不具非顯而易見性。

my two cents:
程序議題是第一要解決的問題。

有關「time bar」讓我想到「on-sale bar」,專利這塊,時間真的很重要,一個差池就差了十萬八千里!

有次參加訴訟會議,當場的律師們在還未進入「技術主題」前,花很多時間討論「訴之聲明」,顯然...法律與技術的層面不同,考慮的議題也不同!
遊戲專利不好寫,更不好准!
判決文:http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/19-1171.Opinion.11-19-2019.pdf(備份:https://app.box.com/s/mt630ub57s0trg5frf5xh9n988k1dcbr

資料參考:
https://www.ipwatchdog.com/2019/11/25/cafc-upholds-ptab-decision-time-bar-obviousness-gaming-patent-claims/id=116421/



日子如何,力量也如何!

Ron