2015年5月31日 星期日

新穎性優惠期(美國專利法第102條增補)

筆記

一般來說,提到新穎性懮惠期在台灣就說有6個月,在美國為12個月,也就是法律上規定在專利申請前若該發明已經被申請人自己/發明人/授意公開等公開事由,不會影響申請案的新穎性。原則如此,但細節各有差異。

參考資料:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2013/05/blog-post.html

中華民國專利法第22條第3項
申請人有下列情事之一,並於其事實發生後六個月內申請,該事實非屬第一項各款或前項不得取得發明專利之情事:
一、因實驗而公開者。
二、因於刊物發表者。
三、因陳列於政府主辦或認可之展覽會者。
四、非出於其本意而洩漏者。

中華民國專利對於可主張新穎性優惠期的資格限制如下:
*主張例外不喪失新穎性或進步性之優惠的行為主體應為申請人,非申請人則不得據以主張該優惠。所稱申請人,亦包含申請人之前權利人。所稱前權利人包含專利申請權之被繼承人、讓與人,或申請權人之受雇人或受聘人等。
*申請人因實驗、於刊物發表、陳列於政府主辦或認可之展覽會而自行將申請專利之發明多次公開,使該發明的技術內容於申請前已見於刊物、已公開實施或已為公眾所知悉,而能為公眾得知者,於最早之事實發生日起算六個月內提出申請,若各次公開事實有密不可分之關係者,得僅聲明最早發生之事實。
*密不可分情況如:
(1)連續數日進行之實驗。
(2)公開實驗及其當場散佈之說明書。
(3)刊物的初版及再版。
(4)研討會之論文發表及其後據此發行之論文集。
(5)同一展覽會之巡迴展出。
(6)展覽會之陳列及其後發行之參展型錄。
(7)同一論文於出版社網頁之先行發表及其後於該出版社之刊物發表。
(8)學位論文之發表及該論文於圖書館之陳列。

美國專利法:
(pre-AIA)美國專利第102(b)條(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2008/08/102b.html
U.S.C. 102(b)
A person shall be entitled to a patent unless -
the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States


(post-AIA)美國專利改革AIA後的102條款(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2012/10/aia102.html
...
(b) EXCEPTIONS.--

(1) DISCLOSURES MADE 1 YEAR OR LESS BEFORE THE EFFECTIVE FILING DATE OF THE CLAIMED INVENTION.--A disclosure made 1 year or less before the effective filing date of a claimed invention shall not be prior art to the claimed invention under subsection (a)(1) if--

(A) the disclosure was made by the inventor or joint inventor or by another who obtained the subject matter disclosed directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor; or

(B) the subject matter disclosed had, before such disclosure, been publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor or another who obtained the subject matter disclosed directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor.
...

“新穎性懮惠期"與"優先權"不同,當要主張優先權(包括複數優先權),就以優先權文件是否涵蓋後申請專利申請範圍的發明為準;當要主張新穎性優惠期,這等於是申請人/發明人自己承認專利揭露發明已經提早公開,但問題是先公開的文獻是否要與後申請案一樣,或說是否可以能由先公開內容直接得到申請專利發明內容?或是公開之後被別人宣傳公開,甚至改了內容再公開?這是發明人可以考量的問題,我認為先公開的程度不能說已經揭露到專利案的發明內容時,不聲明也好,因為各國對於新穎性優惠期的規定有些差異,可能會阻礙專利獲准或影響權利主張。

另,AIA後,過去在美國專利審查時會忽略申請日前一年內的公開內容,因為申請人可以主張在後宣誓(swearing behind),經考量先發明主義後,或可排除申請前一年內先前技術的阻礙。不過,修法後則...不行這樣,除非是自己人的公開。

因為AIA美國專利改革法案實施之後,102已經簡化新穎性判斷標準,針對這裡討論的新穎性優惠期,美國國會又立法擬推出102加強版,加入102(b)(3),法案H.R. 1791 / S. 926,以下內容來自監督國會法案運作的網站(不曉得台灣有沒有?)

H.R. 1791/S. 926: Grace Period Restoration Act of 2015
(法案經參眾兩院通過)

法案主旨就是解決AIA對於102中Grace Period定義模糊不清,這影響專利權人的權益以及相關專利訴訟,特別是學術機構/政府實驗室這類研究單位常常以學術發表為先,再主張新穎性優惠期(grace period),不過卻仍有不少模糊空間的爭議存在。

於是提出增補(updated on June 3, 2015),改良35U.S.C.102,加入第(3)條:
(3) Disclosures by any person after public disclosure of a claimed invention by an inventor

(A)
Definitions
In this paragraph—
(i)
the term covered person, with respect to a claimed invention, means—
(I)
the inventor;
(II)
a joint inventor; or
(III)
another who obtained the claimed invention directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor; and
(ii)
the term relevant section 112(a) requirements means the requirements for a specification under section 112(a) other than the requirement to set forth the best mode of carrying out the invention.
(B)
Public disclosure
A disclosure by any person shall not be prior art to a claimed invention under subsection (a) or section 103 if—
(i)
the disclosure is made under subsection (a)(1) or effectively filed under subsection (a)(2) 1 year or less before the effective filing date of the claimed invention; and
(ii)
before the disclosure described in clause (i) is made or filed, and 1 year or less before the effective filing date of the claimed invention, the claimed invention is publicly disclosed in a printed publication by a covered person in a manner that satisfies the relevant section 112(a) requirements.
(C)
Determination that public disclosure would have satisfied specification requirements
In determining under subparagraph (B) whether a claimed invention was publicly disclosed in a printed publication by a covered person in a manner that satisfied the relevant section 112(a) requirements—
(i)
only the state of the art known on and before the date of the disclosure may be considered; and
(ii)
satisfaction of the relevant section 112(a) requirements may be—
(I)
established by 1 or more public disclosures in printed publications made by a covered person during the period of 1 year or less between—
(aa)
the disclosure by the covered person described in subparagraph (B)(ii); and
(bb)
the effective filing date of the claimed invention; and
(II)
supported by statements under declaration or oath relating to the existence and content of the public disclosure or disclosures in printed publications described in subclause (I).
(D)
Presumption of validity
An applicant for a patent shall present to the Patent and Trademark Office, before the Patent and Trademark Office issues a notice of allowance of the application for the patent, each disclosure under subparagraph (C)(ii)(I) and any statement under subparagraph (C)(ii)(II) in order for the section 112(a) support provided by each such disclosure or statement under subparagraph (C)(ii) to be taken into account under the section 282(a) presumption of validity of an issued patent.
(E)
Certain disclosures not prior art
A disclosure described in paragraph (1)(A), (2)(A), or (2)(C) shall not be prior art to a claimed invention under this paragraph.


(F)
Procedures
The Patent and Trademark Office may establish procedures to carry out this paragraph.
其中定義"covered person"為發明人/共同發明人/直接或間接由發明人/共同發明人取得內容的人。
內容包括:
(B)公眾公開
被任何人揭露的內容"不能成為先前技術(prior art)",如果:(i)揭露內容符合102(a)(1)或(a)(2)在專利有效申請日前"一年內"的條件,以及,(ii)在(i)時間條件下的"揭露之前",專利主張發明(claimed invention)被"covered person"使用出版品(printed publication)以符合112(a)揭露要求的方式公開(要充分揭露)。
(C)符合112(a)揭露規定
本領域技術人員了解;提出出版品內容以以及宣誓書。
(D)有效推定(Presumption of validity)。
(F)USPTO或許會對此另闢新程序。

資料參考:
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr1791/text
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/s926/text
http://patentlyo.com/patent/2015/04/grace-period-restoration-2015.html

Ron

2015年5月27日 星期三

有關crowded art的CAFC案例討論 - TOKAI CORP. v. EASTON ENTERPRISES, INC.

被人問起『審查委員一直用新的引證案』回應「申請人答辯」怎麼辦?這是很難的功課,也是普遍問題。
就審查委員的角度來看,如果都「不理睬」過去的答辯,而一直採用「新引證案」提出核駁,應該就是認為「這些」先前技術都是本發明類似的先前技術,經過組合認為本發明不具進步性,本案就是「很普通的一般技術」;
就申請人或發明人的角度來看,「這些」先前技術不就表示本案具有「新穎性」,而且這麼多的前案不就證明本案不同於先前技術而應該具有進步性

答辯方向至少要證明具有其中之一發明的果效(加上我自己的註解,也就是Secondary Consideration):
「發明具有無法預期的功效(相同領域的先前技術沒有得到的,但本發明得到)」、「發明解決長期存在的問題(業界知道的問題卻一直沒有解決方案,而本發明提出了)」、「發明克服技術偏見(大家一直這樣想,直到本發明出現)」、「發明獲得商業上的成功(沒辦法的辦法,證明消費者買單表示具有進步性,需要證明)」、「微小改良帶來實質的進步(需要數據)」。

[前言:]
答辯這類理由,如果沒有更多技術限制或是找到足夠有力的答辯論點,大約就是落到「進步性的輔助性判斷因素」,如中華民國專利審查基準第二篇第三章3.4.2節,應證明「發明具有無法預期的功效」、「發明解決長期存在的問題」、「發明克服技術偏見」或是「發明獲得商業上的成功」,這大概是最後絕招!

在我看到的美國案例中,大約就是涉及「發明落於CROWDED ART」,但從過去文獻並未見到本發明的成果,因此非顯而易見。

判決中,值得一提的是,CAFC採用地方法院對於「crowded art」中產生不可預期的技術的態度,也就是學術上在肝細胞保存(hepatocyte preservation)已有多年,但是卻未有多凍存(multi-cryopreservation)的任何參考文獻,認定此專利技術為非顯而易見,也就是法院發現專利與先前技術具有重要的區隔(significant distinction between previous research on hepatocyte freezing)。

關於"Crowded Art"的經典案例「In re Hummer, 241 F.2d 742, 744 (C.C.P.A. 1957)」中提到crowded art的法院意見:
"The building art is one of the oldest known to man and it can aptly be described as "crowded." It will be observed from the limitations of the claims that the applicant seeks a patent on only a narrow improvement. Progress is as important, however, in crowded arts as well as in those which are in the pioneer stage, In re Tamarin, 187 F.2d 160, 38 C.C.P.A., Patents, 872, and such progress is usually made in small increments. The question before us is whether applicant's limited advance is such as is entitled to patent protection under the law."

亦可參考:有關在crowded art中非顯而易見的案例Celsis In Vitro, Inc. v. CellzDirect, Inc.,  664 F.3d 922 (Fed. Cir. 2012)http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2013/04/crowded-art.html)。

以上要克服的顯而易見性,大約可以KSR案例為依歸:KSR判例的回顧-USPTO更新審查方針
http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2010/09/ksr-uspto.html

[本次討論:]
TOKAI CORP. v. EASTON ENTERPRISES, INC. (CAFC JAN. 31, 2011)
http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/10-1057.pdf
(updated on Aug. 6, 2015,更新連結) http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/10-1057.pdf
(備份)https://app.box.com/s/dzanwqcfiyrgllnsf99ewyy8ie7n3bh6

案件資訊:
專利權人/原告/上訴人:Tokai Corp.
侵權被告:Easton Enterprises, Inc.
事由:侵權被告在地方法院提出專利無效(顯而易見)的簡易判決,而地院判決專利無效,於是專利權人提出上訴
系爭專利(點火器的安全裝置):
U.S.5,697,775(775案)
U.S.5,897,308(308案)
U.S.6,093,017(017案)

被告提出的先前技術:
U.S.5,326,256 (“Shike”)
U.S.5,199,865 (“Liang”)
U.S.5,090,893 (“Flo-riot”)
U.S.4,832,596 (“Morris”)

法官解釋專利範圍以及分析顯而易見性的依據如一般USPTO顯而易見判斷原則的四個因素(Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1, 17–18 (1966).
  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
從這些多件先前技術的無效意見來看,系爭專利確實列為一個發展很完整的技術中,也就是crowded art中(另一反對法官Newman提到此為crowded art),專利權人的答辯策略即朝「Secondary Consideration」方向答辯,專利權人Tokai主張系爭專利為商業上的成功的發明,但判斷上考量產品商業上的成功與系爭專利範圍的發明要有關連性(a nexus must exist between the commercial success and the claimed invention),也就是當兩者有關連,商業上的成功的主張才有實質意義,反之,如果商業上的成功因素仍為先前技術,表示兩者無關,答辯無效。

結果:
CAFC同意地院的專利無效判決,理由之一是「無法證明商業上的成功與系爭專利發明有關」,引用KSR判例(發明時已知相關問題,解決方案為顯而易知),發明基於先前技術為顯而易見。

(重要)值得一提的是,反對法官Newman除了不認為先前技術能證明系爭專利為顯而易見外,更提到如系爭專利等的Crowded Art與競爭的技術領域中,當大家都在尋求商業上的成功,而系爭專利的改良可以達到有價值實質的改善時,就如同相關技術的先驅者,這不就是專利制度的目的嗎!(我對這段話頗為有感,updated on May 27, 2015)。事實上,法院從來沒有嘗試做過系爭專利想做的事。

Ron

2015年5月26日 星期二

「無助於技術性的特徵」討論

筆記

規劃專利範圍時,原則上是迴避最近的先前技術而盡量取得最大範圍(考量新穎性),用語上位、範圍盡可能有均等效果。不過,這樣的範圍往往也是容易遭受核駁,因為進步性不足的疑慮,答辯(OA)一兩次是常態。這時,如果填入一些"不傷大雅"的限制或許會"增加獲准的機率"?這類限制常常是"除了這樣沒有別的方案",或是"即便範圍較小,但是主張專利權時有君等的可能",另有想法是"審查委員要核駁這個特徵還要另找引證案,增加核駁的困難度,或是增加答辯的機會"等等,熟不知如果增加的"不傷大雅"的限制雖可能有以上效果,但仍多半是「無助於技術性的特徵」。

[台灣:]
過去分享:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/08/blog-post.html

中華民國專利審查基準第二篇第十二章「電腦軟體相關發明」中4.2.5「無助於技術性的特徵」一節重點有:「發明必須具有技術性」、「審查進步性時,應考量請求項中所載不具技術性之特徵是否有助於技術性」、「若特徵不具技術性,需判斷特徵是否有助於請求項之技術性」、「若特徵不具技術性,未與具技術性之特徵協同運作而非解決問題的技術手段,視為習知技術之運用」。

專利法所指之發明必須具有技術性,即發明解決問題的手段必須是涉及技術領域的技術手段。
發明專利係保護利用自然法則之技術思想之創作,其專利要件之審查原則上應就請求項中所載之全部技術特徵為之。因此,審查發明請求項之新穎性時,單一先前技術仍需揭露請求項所載之全部技術特徵,始能認定不具新穎性。然而,由於申請人於電腦軟體相關發明請求項中可能記載有不具技術性之特徵,審查進步性時,應考量請求項中所載不具技術性之特徵是否有助於技術性。
於電腦軟體相關發明中,若請求項中所載之特徵具有技術性,則該特徵即有助於請求項之技術性;若特徵不具技術性,則需判斷該特徵是否與具技術性之特徵協同運作後有助於請求項之技術性;若特徵不具技術性,且未與具技術性之特徵協同運作而非屬解決問題之技術手段的一部分,則應視為習知技術之運用,且可與其他先前技術輕易結合。

審查基準提供了判斷流程:

還有幾例表示何謂「無助於技術性的特徵」:
比如在請求項置入"人為規則",這類內容常常是未與其他技術特徵協同運作後有助於技術特徵;這類技術也常是非利用自然法則,未與其他技術特徵協同運作而有助於技術性。這類無助進步性。
比如請求項內描述了"美術創作",這類描述顯然不具技術性,也不會與其他具技術性的特徵協同運作後有助技術性。
比如請求項包括"資訊揭示",這些資料內容若未能與其他具技術性之特徵協同運作以有助於技術性,則直接視為習知技術之運用,並可與其他先前技術輕易結合。舉例,請求項描述『每一該客戶端於登入時輸入使用者姓名、性別、年齡、興趣等基本資』,如果這些資訊並無助於技術性,僅被視為一般輸入內容,不會有進步性。

[歐體:]
這樣就想到過去曾經分享的歐盟案例:『取得發明中的可專利技術特徵歐洲訴願案例討論』
http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2015/03/blog-post_17.html

案例重點為:『發明混合了技術與非技術特徵(沒有技術貢獻),而審查進步性時應以整體技術觀之,且考量當中具有技術貢獻的特徵,其中沒有技術特徵的部分則不考量其進步性,但這類非技術描述仍是專利範圍之限制。

判斷進步性時,先決定出專利技術解決的問題與技術,再辨別出相關技術領域中最相近的先前技術,相較之下,可以判斷出該發明是否具有技術特徵(具有可以區隔先前技術而對發明有貢獻的技術),再以此判斷專利是否具有進步性。

[美國:]
這類「無助於技術性的特徵」在美國被認為是「預期的用途(intended use)」,NO WEIGHT

分享一:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2009/12/intended-use.html

案例重點:
寫出發明用途,對技術而言,並無影響;
"adapted to"或"adapted for",也就是應用的對象,此類描述也是說明該發明的用途,對解釋申請專利範圍仍無用處;
"whereby"子句為功能性描述,多半不會被解釋進權利範圍中。

以上幾種描述語句可能產生解釋專利範圍的問題,然而,在判例Hoffer v. Microsoft Corp.中,法院認定,"whereby"用語所描述的條件是有形的(material),則可影響該項專利性,不能被忽略,然而,若是用於方法專利中,"whereby"若只表示出功效,則不會對權利範圍有影響(no weight)。

分享二:僅具預期用途(to...)的技術元件沒有份量(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/07/to.html

案例重點:
PTAB審查委員提到Claim 1中「TO ANALYZE COST」 僅表達了該步驟為預期的用途或目的,並未限定權利範圍,也就是審查時可以忽略的元件。
上述涉及專利範圍元件是否為「intended use」的爭論中,顯然PTAB認為「to...」為表達預期用途的語言,因此不列入比對先前技術的限制,申請人在專利回到USPTO後,即對此提出修正與回應,答辯時提出引證案並未揭露該段步驟,顯然USPTO審查委員同意申請人將「to...」的語言改為「Ving」為首的步驟用語,並核准經大幅修改請求項描述的權利範圍。

小結:
從以上內容可知,專利範圍撰寫「功效性語言不會有技術性」、「要對照最相近先前技術來判斷其中元件是否具有技術性或是技術貢獻(但這除了發明人可以稍微瞭解先前技術外,往往要接到審查意見才容易判斷)」、「用途本身不會有技術性(除非是用途發明)」、「"應用於"、"適用於"...等描述與技術性無關」、「表達技術功能的描述沒有技術貢獻」。

另外,專利範圍用語影響頗鉅!

Ron

2015年5月25日 星期一

USPTO分別與KIPO, JPO簽署檢索合作備忘錄(包括FAI)

USPTO分別與KIPO, JPO簽署檢索合作備忘錄

5/20,21/2015美國專利與商標局分別與韓國/日本智慧財產局簽署雙邊協同檢索領航計畫(bilateral Collaboration Search Pilot, CSP),簽署的地點在中國,內容主要是在第一次審查意見(first office action)前分享美韓/美日雙邊的檢索資訊

美韓雙邊協同檢索領航計畫將於9/1/2015開始; 美日則將於8/1/2015開始。

合作的目標就是「快速」與「品質」。

FAI:
就USPTO而言,將在實質審查的初次檢索之外,採用完整第一次審查面詢(Full First Action Interview, FAI)的措施,這是一種專利審查前的溝通,根據FAI計畫(如下補充),USPTO將在正式審查以前先提供申請人一個檢索報告,並可能提出面詢要求,在此合作計畫中可以確保兩國之間審查工作的順暢,而達到加速審查的目的。
http://www.uspto.gov/patent/initiatives/first-action-interview/full-first-action-interview-pilot-program

補充:Full First Action Interview Pilot Program
(先前報導:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2008/09/interview.html
 其實這曾經是個短暫的計畫,可以「讓申請人參與專利審查」,目的在於「增進專利審查」、「加強申請人與審查委員的互動」、「一對一與審查委員在審查前期就能解決可專利性問題」 以及「提早獲准專利(應該也包括提早決定不搞下去了)」,這完全是想要讓專利審查加速,降低積案。當申請人參考了檢索報告,可以決定要不要面詢(interview),或是提出修正或意見(amendment or remarks),經此過程,如果有共識,不一定就能在正式OA前就獲准專利。

實務上,USPTO與KIPO/JPO其實是同時進行專利檢索,並互相交換兩國的檢索結果,USPTO會將兩國的檢索報告都傳給申請人,申請人應同時參考兩國的意見而作出最好的決定。

JPO資料:
http://www.meti.go.jp/press/2015/05/20150521001/20150521001-1.pdf 

原本兩國個別專利審查流程:

CSP之後:


先後檢索報告出來的兩國流程:


後語:
看到各國專利局的合作,以及對自己審查品質的要求,感到我們正在被淘汰的憂心,當得知USPTO因為要跟別國合作而"改變自己的審查程序"而其目的只是要確保檢索品質時,大國就是大國,不會因為自己夠大而驕傲,反而省查自己是否不夠好!

其實,兩個國家要專利合作,常常會有不少需要磨合的部分,比如專利法、審查基準、是否大國影響小國、是否後申請國只好照抄前申請國的審查結果,都會有要調整的地方,還有是公務員心態。

只能說,以上,跟我們似乎無關,但卻是處處衝擊我們,台灣現在充斥著跟別合作、簽約就是"失去自主"的小國心態,熟不知國際之間早就打破這種本土意志,當我們故步自封,就沒有競爭力、沒有國際視野,或許大環境的事我們無法處理,但可以從小事開始,就這一行而言,審查品質、人員素質、專利質量都應該先到國際水準!

專利工程師,加油,我們還不夠好!

Ron

2015年5月22日 星期五

蘋果三星第一波訴訟CAFC決定(包括這波訴訟整理)

有鑑於很多媒體對這個判決講得有點模糊,雖是很芭樂的故事,但還是講一下,避免留下太多疑問。

第一波Apple v. Samsung前情提要:
  • 溯及美國北卡地方法院對於蘋果公司對三星侵權訴訟的最終判決。
  • 蘋果公司(Apple Inc.)於2011年對三星(Samsung)提出侵權告訴。
  • 地方法院陪審團於2012年作出侵權成立的決定,並作出10億美金賠償金額。(Apple在這一階段"設計相關"的訴訟勝了Samsung,http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2012/08/applesamsung.html
  • 經三星提出審判後請願(post-trial motion),地院分別在兩次部分再審判決中決定賠償金額$639,403,248與$290,456,793(合計9億3千萬美元,http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2013/11/blog-post_1221.html)。
  • 2014年作出終審。隨後三星上訴CAFC。
系爭專利:
USD618,677(677案)
USD593,087(087案)
USD604,305(305案)
US7,469,381(381案,經再審程序,部分範圍確認,http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2013/09/us7469381.html
US7,844,915(915案,PTAB判無效,http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/12/915-ptab.html,上訴中)
US7,864,163(163案)
Trademark Registration No. 3,470,983(trade mark,983案)
還有基於iPhone系列形成的整體設計(unregistered trade dress)

CAFC案討論:

[外觀商標]
關於「Trade Dresses」,"trade dress"是一個商品或服務元素的包裝或呈現的整體表現("“trade dress is the totality of elements in which a product or service is packaged or presented"),這個效果與商標接近,就是透過產品包裝或呈現能夠識別出產品的源頭,3C產品一般都有強烈的識別性,如蘋果i系列、三星S系列、hTC one系列...。這些元素都會增加產品銷售與競爭力。

因此,判斷侵犯"Trade Dress"的原則就看被告侵權的產品是否讓人有誤會或刻意誤導為提告方產品的疑慮,而可能稀釋了原本產品的識別性

"...it is necessary for us to determine first whether Apple’s asserted trade dresses, claiming elements from its iPhone product, are nonfunctional and therefore protectable." updated on May 23, 2015

但是一個產品的特徵通常就是強調其功能性,它的實用,或是用途,也會影響製作費用與數量。不過對於外觀商標,法院的意見曾有不少討論,本次CAFC就採用最高法院與第九巡迴法院(ninth Circuit)的意見,認為此例iPhone產品配置外觀商標具有功能性因此不具保護力。updated on May 23, 2015
"“Courts have noted that it is, and should be, more difficult to claim product configuration trade dress than other forms of trade dress.”  Id. at 1012-13 (discussing cases).  Accordingly, the Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit have repeatedly found product configuration trade dresses functional and therefore non-protectable."

根據以上法院意見,其中強調"Trade Dress"的"非功能性",就是判斷是否侵權時並不論產品的功能性,特別是非註冊型的外觀商標,Apple宣稱這是自iPhone 3G/3GS的特徵:具有四個平滑圓角的方形產品、平面乾淨的表面、顯示器就在這個表面的下方,顯示器上下具有黑框,有較窄的兩側,當產品啟動,會顯示一排小點,有陣列型式的圖案(icon),也就有四個圓角,顯示下方有固定不動可擺上icon的區域。

CAFC判斷這個非註冊型外觀商標時,採用Disc Golf factors檢測其中是否含有功能性特徵:(1)其中是否有實用的優點、是否有替代設計的可能、是否有廣告吹捧的實用優點、以及設計是否為相對簡單或便宜製造的設計?
(1) whether the design yields a utilitarian advantage,
(2) whether alternative designs are available,
(3) whether advertising touts the utilitarian advantages of the design, and
(4) whether the particular design results from a comparatively simple or inexpensive method of manufacture.”

結果,CAFC認為經此檢驗,蘋果沒有足夠證明此非註冊型外觀商標的非功能性特徵;甚至沒有反駁其(iphone)改良實用的功能性目的,即便一直強調iphone的美"。updated on May 23, 2015
"Nevertheless, we explore Apple’s contentions on each of the Disc Golf factors and conclude that there was insufficient evidence to support a jury finding in favor of nonfunctionality on any factor."

"In sum, Apple has failed to show that there was substantial evidence in the record to support a jury finding in favor of non-functionality for the unregistered trade dress on any of the Disc Golf factors.  Apple fails to rebut the evidence that the elements in the unregistered trade dress serve the functional purpose of improving usability.  Rather, Apple focuses on the “beauty” of its design, even though Apple pursued both “beauty” and functionality in the design of the iPhone.  We therefore reverse the district court’s denial of Samsung’s motion for judgment as a matter of law that the unregistered trade dress is functional and therefore not protectable."

註冊的外觀商標
Trademark Registration No. 3,470,983



相關描述中提及不少有關iphone的型態(configuration),這裡用黑體字標註:"The mark consists of the configuration of a rectangular handheld mobile digital electronic device with rounded silver edges, a black face, and an array of 16 square icons with rounded edges. The top 12 icons appear on a black background, and the bottom 4 appear on a silver background. The first icon depicts the letters "SMS" in green inside a white speech bubble on a green background; the second icon is white with a thin red stripe at the top; the third icon depicts a sunflower with yellow petals, a brown center, and a green stem in front of a blue sky; the fourth icon depicts a camera lens with a black barrel and blue glass on a silver background; the fifth icon depicts a tan television console with brown knobs and a gray-green screen; the sixth icon depicts a white graph line on a blue background; the seventh icon depicts a map with yellow and orange roads, a pin with a red head, and a red-and- blue road sign with the numeral "280" in white..."

因為983案為聯邦註冊的商標,因此應具有商標必要的非功能性特徵,這回經兩照提出論點後,法院提出多件被確認即便是個註冊外觀商標也可能為功能性特徵,以此反駁蘋果對於其外觀商標的非功能特徵updated on May 23, 2015,於是CAFC法官認為Apple並未證明983案如地方法院陪審團決定的非功能性特徵,使得983案不具商標保護力

[設計專利]
關於設計的侵權判斷,不同於外觀商標強調「非功能性特徵」,設計專利則是具備功能與非功能性的元素,在設計專利的侵權判斷中,在這裡提到採用三個角度的判斷,包括功能性(functionality)、實際欺騙(actual deception)與先前技術的比對(comparison to prior art)

功能性(functionality)
設計專利具有功能性與非功能性的元素,對於設計專利的比對,是以整體外觀,或是整體的裝飾外觀(ornamental appearance),也就是設計專利侵權比對時,是針對整個設計外觀比對,還是僅比對其中裝飾性而有視覺效果的特徵。在地方法院陪審團的觀念中,是以整體判斷(as a whole),這也涉及「專利範圍解釋」的爭議,CAFC同意地院陪審團認定設計專利應該"整體"觀之,因為設計本身就是一種裝飾性設計(the ornamental design),就是專利呈現出的圖面

實際欺騙(actual deception)
這是討論是否在消費者購買兩個產品(設計、被告產品,顯然這裡是指iPhone與Galaxy)時會產生混淆。雖三星認為侵權判斷應討論到是否有實際欺騙的行為,但是CAFC法官同意地院陪審團認為不用考慮actual deception,僅就圖面判斷是否會造成混淆即可

先前技術的比對(comparison to prior art)
以設計專利進行侵權比對時,應先比對先前技術,藉此確認設計專利本身自己的特徵,應以此作為比對基礎CAFC法官認為地院陪審團已經考量先前技術

[實用專利]
這部分蘋果對三星主張163案claim 50,以及915案claim 8,CAFC法官認為這兩項權利有效,且侵權成立
claim 50 of 163'
...
instructions for enlarging and translating the structured electronic document so that the first box is substantially centered on the touch screen display;
instruction for, while the first box is enlarged, a second gesture is detected on a second box other than the first box; and
instructions for, in response to detecting the second gesture, the structured electronic document is translated so that the second box is substantially centered on the touch screen display.

[其他]
另有禁制令的訴訟,CAFC曾於2013年否決蘋果公司提出的禁制請求。
http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2013/11/cafcsamsung.html

一些參考資料:
Trade Dress(外觀商標)http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2012/08/trade-dress.html
蘋果憑甚麼向三星要20億美金?http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2012/07/20.html
三星可否擊敗蘋果公司呢?http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2013/03/blog-post_8999.html
三星反擊蘋果的設計爭辯!http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2012/08/blog-post_3.html
Apple的Bounce-Back觸控專利無效?http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2012/11/applebounce-back.html
第一波Apple v. Samsung訴訟:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2012/08/applesamsung.html
第二波Apple v. Samsung訴訟:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/05/apple2212.html
Steve Jobs稱為的聖戰其實目前結果不如理想:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/04/steve-jobs.html

本案結論:
CAFC法院判決部分同意、部分否決以及部分撤回地方法院的決定,並發回重審。
部分同意的判決為:三星侵犯蘋果一件設計三件設計updated on Aug. 6, 2015、兩件發明專利(163案、915案)。
部分否決的判決為:三星產品並非沒有"稀釋"蘋果trade dress(外觀商標),而是蘋果trade dresss不具保護力。updated on May 23, 2015
因為三星未侵犯trade dress,因此撤回地院重新作出賠償的決定。

(updated on Aug. 6, 2015,不確定當時我為何判斷僅一件設計侵權成立,但經當年2012年8月的判決來看,三件設計'677, '087, '305都是侵權成立,日後才是賠償金額的爭議,感謝網友kewinle指教
相關連結可參考:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2012/08/applesamsung.html

判決原文:
http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/14-1335.Opinion.5-14-2015.1.PDF
(連結更新updated on Aug. 5, 2015http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/14-1335.Opinion.5-14-2015.1.PDF
(備份)https://app.box.com/s/45v0rkn76gck4p6613r1ugz2sb6v43o1

Ron

2015年5月21日 星期四

清除歐洲統一專利制度障礙的重要CJEU判決

歐盟司法法院(Court of Justice of the European Union,CJEU)在幾件判決後確認將來歐洲統一專利(unitary patent)將仍基於現行EPC專利申請流程,且統一專利的所有措施由EPO行政專責委員會(Select Committee of the Administrative Council)採用,細節將逐步揭示。

歐洲議會法律事務委員會(European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee,JURI)也參與本次歐盟司法法院的判決,顯示這次判決的重要性。

雖然歐洲統一專利、統一法庭啟動在即,但也不是每個歐盟成員國都買單,比如西班牙日前提出兩個對抗統一專利的加強合作條例(regulations implementing enhanced cooperation)的訴訟,案號:C-146/13C-147/13,歐盟司法法院否決西班牙這兩個訴訟的訴求,也就如標題所言,對於統一專利制度的共識又邁向一步。

C-146/13
訴訟雙方:Spain v Parliament and Council
主張:歐洲統一專利加強合作條例無效,包括違反現行條例、沒有法律基礎、濫用權利等。
(i) infringement of the values of the rule of law;
(ii) a lack of legal basis;
(iii) a misuse of powers;
(iv) infringement of Article 291(2) TFEU and, in the alternative, of the principles laid down in the judgment in Meroni v High Authority (9/56, EU:C:1958:7);
(v) infringement of those principles owing to the delegation to the EPO of certain administrative tasks relating to the EPUE, and
(vi) and (vii) infringement of the principles of autonomy and uniform application of EU law. 

判決:歐盟司法法院否決西班牙的主張,並負擔歐洲議會與理事會的訴訟費用

C-147/13
訴訟雙方:Spain v Council
主張:廢除統一專利的加強合作條例
判決:歐盟司法法院否決西班牙的主張,並負擔歐洲議會與理事會的訴訟費用

歐洲統一專利(unitary patent)將來會稱歐洲專利(European patent),概念上由EPO統一審理,一旦獲准,效力及於相關會員國,爭議也會由統一法庭審理。

本次爭議中,歐盟司法法院(CJEU)強調,歐洲專利由EPC規範,並非歐盟法(EU Law),將來統一專利同樣符合EPC規定;對於智慧財產通行全歐洲的法律基礎,法院認為統一專利可以讓智慧財產權在各會原國有一致的保護,不致讓各國的差異性影響專利實施。

透過這次爭議,雖有法律上的障礙、語言上的困擾(西班牙文非官方語言)、全歐施行的疑慮,但都在法院意見下"統一"見解,消除往統一專利系統的路障。

統一專利實施就待歐洲統一專利法庭的協議成立(至少要有歐盟13個成員國簽署,其中還應包括法國、德國與英國)。
http://documents.epo.org/projects/babylon/eponet.nsf/0/A1080B83447CB9DDC1257B36005AAAB8/$File/upc_agreement_en.pdf

補充:
REGULATION (EU) No 1257/2012 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:361:0001:0008:EN:PDF
一些歐洲統一專利參考(這部分近日會重新理解):
http://www.epo.org/law-practice/unitary/unitary-patent.html
http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2013/11/blog-post_6.html

一些參考資料:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enhanced_cooperation(歐盟加強合作條例)
這個表格顯示歐盟成員國之間的合作協議:加強合作條例(Enhanced cooperation)、協調開放法則(Open Method of Coordination)與相關政府間條例(Related intergovernmental treaties):

所謂歐盟加強合作條例包含三個部分:脫離法(Applicable Divorce law)、統一專利(Unitary patent)與金融交易稅法(Financial transaction tax)

資料來源:
http://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2015/20150505.html
"It confirms that the European patent with unitary effect will be based on the procedure for granting European patents laid down in the European Patent Convention and that all implementing measures for the unitary patent are to be taken by the participating member states in the Select Committee of the Administrative Council of the EPO. Work in the Select Committee has progressed very well, and the EPO is confident that all necessary steps, including a decision on the level of the renewal fees, will be met in the coming months.
The decisions of the Court were published today while a visit to the EPO headquarters in Munich by a delegation of the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI), headed by its Chairman Pavel Svoboda, was taking place. EPO President Benoît Battistelli emphasised the high significance of the decisions: “With its rulings the Court has created the necessary legal certainty for participating EU member states as well as for users of the European patent system, and, after more than 40 years, paves the way towards truly uniform patent protection in Europe.”
The EPO also expressed its hope that the judgments give new impetus to the process of ratification and implementation of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement, and that the unitary patent package can come into operation in the course of 2016."

http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2015-05/cp150049en.pdf

Ron

2015年5月20日 星期三

SEGWAY與後起之秀 - 產品與專利

參考了一些RYNO Motors的專利,決定也加入這篇內容。updated on May 20, 2015

Segway於2001年問世後,當時的氣氛是Segway是個劃時代的行動工具,在接頭看過老爺爺、老奶奶自己操作搭乘,在台灣一些風景區也曾看過,自己也親身體驗過,都是頗為驚豔。

當得知Steve Jobs曾經批評Segway過於龐大,認為它大的如PC,這自然是比對蘋果產品,針對當年讓眾人驚豔的產品,再看到Oxboard(其實這也不是挺新的東西,還有Ryno Motors)的小巧,還是認為Steve Jobs確實是有遠見的人!
(有趣照片可看:https://www.flickr.com/photos/27475255@N07/2684656692
(也有比這些都炫的產品:http://rynomotors.com/http://www.blessthisstuff.com/stuff/vehicles/misc/one-wheel-electric-scooter-by-ryno-motors/

Segwayhttp://www.segway.com/),不少人看上Segway的技術,因此Segway被轉手多次,現在落在小米手上!(資料參考:http://buzzorange.com/techorange/2015/04/30/segway-after-ma/

Segway的專利資訊:http://www.segway.com/patents.pdf
目前核准專利有:
US Patent numbers (issued): 5,701,965; 5,791,425; 5,794,730; 5,971,091; 5,975,225; 6,223,104; 6,288,505; 6,302,230; 6,332,103; 6,357,544; 6,367,817; 6,405,816; 6,408,240; 6,415,879; 6,435,535; 6,443,250; 6,538,411; 6,543,564; 6,553,271; 6,561,294; 6,571,892; 6,575,539; 6,581,714; 6,598,941; 6,651,763; 6,651,766; 6,715,845; 6,779,621; 6,789,640; 6,796,396; 6,799,649; 6,815,929; 6,827,163; D489,027; D489,029; D489,300; D493,127; D493,128; D493,129; D493,392; D493,749; 6,965,206; 6,929,080; 7,017,686; 6,874,591; 6,920,947; 6,866,107; 7,023,330; 6,868,931; 7,000,933; 29/481,973.

一些網頁文件揭露技術資訊:

從以上portfolio列出的最早專利US5701965,發明人就是創立Segway的"Dean L. Kamen",原始專利權人為"DEKA PRODUCTS LIMITED PARTNERSHIP",最近才轉到Segway Inc.。

請求項1界定人的運輸裝置,宣稱可以運行在不規則表面與階梯上,重要元件有motorized drive arrangement、control loop等,判斷與現行的Segway沒有太大關係,可能有技術起創的意義就是了。
1. A device, for transporting a human subject over a surface that may be irregular and may include stairs, the device comprising:
(a) a support for supporting the subject, the support having left and right sides and defining fore-aft and lateral planes;
(b) a plurality of support members on each side of the support, each support member being mounted to permit complete travel around an axis and joined to a discrete ground-contacting component, the ground-contacting component having a point of contact with the surface and occupying only a portion of the entire angular distance around the axis; the support and the support members being parts of an assembly;
(c) a motorized drive arrangement, mounted to the assembly, coupled to the support members, for causing locomotion of the assembly and the subject over the surface; and
(d) a control loop, in which the motorized drive arrangement is included, for dynamically maintaining stability in the fore-aft plane by operation of the motorized drive arrangement so that the net torque experienced by the assembly about the point of contact with the surface, taking into account torques caused by gravity as well as by all other external forces and by the motorized drive, causes a desired acceleration of the assembly.

US6223104
這件就提到採用Gyroscope的用途:

另從專利局網站看到一件未列於官方文件的專利US7740099,揭露運輸增強控制技術,其中揭露Segway的主要元件,如actuator, controller, differentiator, processor等,

控制方法太有趣了,可參考claim 1:
1. A method for controlling yaw of a balancing transporter, comprising:
receiving an input from a user based on a position of a member with respect to a fiducial axis;
calculating a rate of change of the position of the member with respect to the fiducial axis; and
generating a yaw command signal based on at least the position of the member and the rate of change of the position of the member which is weighted based on the level of experience of the user to reduce the effect that the rate of change of the position of the member has on the yaw command signal for a beginner user.

Oxboardhttp://www.oxboard.nl/)是荷蘭公司Oxboard B.V.的產品,比Segway便宜多了,不過應用上可能需要再開發。尚未看到Oxboard專利。



Oxboard影片觀賞(網站上還有一些):
https://youtu.be/_YH0JczXRtE

Ryno Motorshttp://rynomotors.com/
RYNO Motors Full Story:https://youtu.be/Z1YoCfm7nxU

US8800697為優先權在2009年的專利,這是一個可自動平衡的單輪車,主要元件可見claim 1,有輪組、多個馬達、傳動軸/帶、前叉以及一些轉向機械。其穩定的秘訣仍是陀螺儀。
1. An electric-powered, self-balancing unicycle, comprising:
a wheel assembly, the wheel assembly including:
a first electric motor having a first drive sprocket, and a second electric motor having a second drive sprocket, the first and second electric motors each attached to a mounting bracket;
a jackshaft having a jackshaft sprocket disposed at a first end thereof;
a first belt fitted to couple the first drive sprocket to the jackshaft sprocket;
a second belt fitted to couple the second drive sprocket to the jackshaft sprocket;
a main drive sprocket coupled to the jackshaft by a belt; and
a rim coupled to the main drive sprocket, wherein the mounting bracket, the first and second motors, the first and second drive sprockets, the jackshaft, the jackshaft sprocket, the first and second belts, and the main drive sprocket are all housed within an inside area formed by the rim for creating a bottom heavy weight distribution to aid in stabilized self-balancing;
a wheel fork coupled to the wheel assembly;
a body coupled to the wheel fork;
handlebars rotatably coupled to the body; and
a steering linkage coupled between the handlebars and the wheel fork.

US20140058600

幾件專利都提及此單輪車具備四種系統:
(1) the motor control amplifiers; (2) the micro-controller; (3) the gyro stabilization device; and (4) the system outboard accessories such as turn signals and headlights.

‎Ryno Motors, Inc.雖也應用類似Segway的平衡技術,但是仍開發自己的技術與專利,特別是應用了美國臨時案、WIPO案進行佈局,顯然Ryno Motors應頗有企圖。


後語:
若要與Segway競爭,後進除了開發自己的技術外,還是以產品導向,產品、市場、價格決定一切。
就產品性而言,Oxboard的可接受度應該比較高,但也不是很新的東西,曾在台北看過沒有把手的"類Segway",這比較適合一般有趣的應用;就技術而言,應該還是不脫是如Segway應用陀螺儀的技術,而且Segway的應用顯然可以更多樣,更多擴充可能。

新聞參考:
http://www.cultofmac.com/323254/oxboard-like-a-segway-without-handles/

Ron

2015年5月19日 星期二

合理解釋專利範圍的案例 - Phillips v. AWH Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2005)

MPEP 2111 Claim Interpretation; Broadest Reasonable Interpretation
CLAIMS MUST BE GIVEN THEIR BROADEST REASONABLE INTERPRETATION IN LIGHT OF THE SPECIFICATION

MPEP2111的次標題就可以瞭解(美國)審查委員在審查專利時,解讀專利範圍是從文字中進行最廣而合理的解釋,因此審查標準將會以此作為解釋請求項的標準,也難怪常見答辯書講得天花亂墜,但是審查委員卻冷冷的一句話,the Examiner is required to interpret the claim limitations in terms of their broadest reasonable interpretations while determining patentability of the disclosed invention.  See MPEP 2111. ...

一些重點摘要:
這個標準建立於2005年CAFC聯席法官對於案例Phillips v. AWH Corp.的判決,而解釋依據仍要落於說明書揭露內容,因此同時也要求請求項範圍應清楚地被專利說明書所支持,否則無法採取最廣而合理的解釋:
"The Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) determines the scope of claims in patent applications not solely on the basis of the claim language, but upon giving claims their broadest reasonable construction “in light of the specification as it would be interpreted by one of ordinary skill in the art.” In re Am. Acad. of Sci. Tech. Ctr., 367 F.3d 1359, 1364[, 70 USPQ2d 1827, 1830] (Fed. Cir. 2004). Indeed, the rules of the PTO require that application claims must “conform to the invention as set forth in the remainder of the specification and the terms and phrases used in the claims must find clear support or antecedent basis in the description so that the meaning of the terms in the claims may be ascertainable by reference to the description.” 37 CFR 1.75(d)(1)."

MPEP2111中也說明,法院認為請求項範圍解釋時應根據("in light of")說明書內容,藉此明確專利範圍解釋,這不同於從將說明書描述的限制讀入請求項,這可以避免在請求項沒有列入的限制而過度解釋專利範圍。法院同時認為,USPTO審查時不必如法院在侵權訴訟時的方式解釋專利範圍。以最廣而合理的標準解釋專利範圍時,仍應與發明領域相關技術人員的解釋一致。

Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1316, 75 USPQ2d 1321, 1329 (Fed. Cir. 2005)

案件資訊:
原告/上訴人:Edward H. Phillips
被告:AWH Corporation
系爭專利:US4,677,798
緣起:Edward H. Phillips取得專利,與AWH Corporation合作,販賣專利所指的鋼板,之後拆夥,但Phillips發現AWH Corporation再沒有取得同意下繼續使用Phillips的專利以及營業秘密,因此提出侵權告訴,以及違反營業秘密(不成立,在此並不討論)

US4,677,798揭露一種監牢設施的鋼模塊(Steel shell modules for prisoner detention facilities),監牢的結構特色就是要特別強固而難以破壞(防彈、防火、防撞擊,還隔音),結構大致是三個鋼板形成一個模組,截面部分形成三角形,可防彈(偏轉子彈),再將兩個鋼板模組焊接在一起,形成兩道內外牆。

Claim 1:
1. Building modules adapted to fit together for construction of fire, sound and impact resistant security barriers and rooms for use in securing records and persons, comprising in combination, an outer shell of substantially parallelepiped shaped with two outer steel plate panel sections of greater surface area serving as inner and outer walls for a structure when a plurality of the modules are fitted together, sealant means spacing the two panel sections from steel to steel contact with each other by a thermal-acoustical barrier material, and further means disposed inside the shell for increasing its load bearing capacity comprising internal steel baffles extending inwardly from the steel shell walls.

地方法院審理侵權訴訟前,解釋專利範圍,其中「further means disposed inside the shell for increasing its load bearing capacity comprising internal steel baffles extending inwardly from the steel shell walls」為符合35U.S.C.112(f)定義的手段功能用語,於是法院解釋專利範圍時,引用了說明書內容,認為其中"internal steel baffles"應參考說明書內容所界定的:"extend inward from the steel shell walls at an oblique or acute angle to the wall face",這些限制並未寫在專利範圍內,如此限制的條件使得法院判斷侵權不成立。

相關112(f)文章可參考:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2011/11/about-claims-xxxxi.htmlhttp://enpan.blogspot.tw/2008/08/about-claims-ix-1126.html

於是,專利權人上訴CAFC,CAFC法官雖有不同意見,但多數還是認為侵權不成立,不過理由並不同。

首先,CAFC法官認為地方法院錯誤解釋專利範圍中的手段功能用語,因此請求項中算是揭示了足夠的結構特徵,但認為請求項界定"baffles"理應排除了自牆以90度角延伸的結構,因為想要以某種非90度的角度達到轉向入射子彈的目的。特別是已有先前技術有擋板與牆面呈90度角的設計。據此,CAFC法官認為根據以上參考系爭專利說明書結構的描述來解釋專利範圍,侵權不成立

但仍有法官持不同意見,認為系爭專利說明書所界定的防撞擊等效果僅是多個發明目的之一,不能用來限制專利範圍,認為解釋專利範圍時,對於一些用語,應該採取一般目的的字典定義,因此不同意簡易法庭作出不侵權的決定:

在此階段,CAFC同意地院對於營業秘密的決定;否決部分地院對於侵權的決定。

在此決定中,認為Claim 1界定的"baffles"並非是手段功能用語,不適用35U.S.C.112(f),這不同地方法院的意見,即便有"means"的用語,但是這個字也非是修飾"baffle"的用語,因此怎麼解釋"baffle"成為侵權與否的關鍵!

因為請求項關鍵特徵"baffle"不適用35U.S.C.112(f),於是轉向35U.S.C.112(a)(b),檢視說明書是否符合能讓發明相關領域技術人員可以據以實施的揭露條件,是否請求項範圍符合能夠明確出發明標的的目的。也就是探討何謂發明相關一般技術人員(a person of ordinary skill in the art)所瞭解的發明?原本發明人的發明概念為何?不要過度也不要過廣解釋專利範圍。

可參考:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2008/09/112.html

此處,CAFC採用Multiform Desiccants, Inc. v. Medzam, Ltd.(Fed. Cir. 1998)案例對於the person of ordinary skill in the art的解釋:
It is the person of ordinary skill in the field of the invention through whose eyes the claims are construed. Such person is deemed to read the words used in the patent documents with an understanding of their meaning in the field, and to have knowledge of any special meaning and usage in the field. The inventor’s words that are used to describe the invention—the inventor’s lexicography—must be understood and interpreted by the court as they would be understood and interpreted by a person in that field of technology. Thus the court starts the decisionmaking process by reviewing the same resources as would that person, viz., the patent specification and the prosecution history.

對於請求項中用語的解釋,可參考案例:Renishaw PLC v. Marposs Societa’ per Azioni, 158 F.3d 1243, 1249 (Fed. Cir. 1998),說明書應讓相關技術人員可以理解請求項所包裹的該發明,這涉及請求項的語言,應與說明書一致:
Ultimately, the interpretation to be given a term can only be determined and confirmed with a full understanding of what the inventors actually invented and intended to envelop with the claim. The construction that stays true to the claim language and most naturally aligns with the patent’s description of the invention will be, in the end, the correct construction.

然而,是否就將說明書描述直接用來解釋專利範圍,這稱為"importing limitations from specification",這還是有一些規範,避免請求項範圍過窄又影響發明人/專利權人的權益,這畢竟需要鼓勵發展,而非一味地限制權利。這段法院意見表達專利說明書的目的,就是讓相關技術人員可以根據說明書內容實施該發明,並提供最佳實施例(當年,現在非必要(美國專利))(Spectra-Physics, Inc. v. Coherent, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 1987)):
To avoid importing limitations from the specification into the claims, it is important to keep in mind that the purposes of the specification are to teach and enable those of skill in the art to make and use the invention and to provide a best mode for doing so.

解釋專利範圍時,提到USPTO審查態度:broadest reasonable construction

解釋專利範圍時,這裡有個重點就是引用附屬項證明獨立項的廣度,這如請求項差異化原則(Doctrine of Claim Differentiation,可搜尋GOOGLE或本部落格文章),表明發明人並非希望附屬項是獨立項的限制條件,因此系爭專利獨立項的"baffle"有一定的解釋空間。

根據以上(這裡僅列舉我覺得比較重要的意見)法院案例,CAFC於本案判決時,否決侵權被告AWH過度限制專利範圍的解釋,特別是對於擋板(baffle)的結構解釋。這部分,CAFC認同部分、否決部分,因此發回重審。

後語:
本案例全文長達40頁(前後各法官意見共56頁),多數在討論何謂a person of ordinary skill in the field of the invention/in the art,可見專利範圍解釋一直以來都是專利系統最重要的事情,即便有了一些初步意見,或是有建設性的結論,但仍是需要一直學習的課目。

美國法院系統一個重要的關鍵在於:專家證詞(這屬於外部證據,extrinsic evidence),這反映出「相關技術領域的人」如何解釋專利,這部分顯見於各種法院意見,甚至也存在於"類法院"判決的行政程序中,比如IPR, PGR, Reexamination等程序。

「專利附屬項」十分重要,雖不少人認為不重要,但是附屬項的功能之一至少表示「與獨立請求項」有不同範圍,也就是直接提昇了獨立請求項的解釋範圍,至少表示發明人不希望獨立範圍並非限制到附屬項的範圍,這也是表明發明人的發明意圖
可參考先前文章:「請求項差異化原則(Doctrine of Claim Differentiation)」(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/02/ptabiprabout-claims.html

其實,你我都算是發明相關領域的一般技術人員,寫到說服自己,明白、清楚就是了!

判決原文:
http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/03-1269.pdf

一些相關112(f)案例討論:
http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2012/09/blog-post_27.html

Ron

2015年5月14日 星期四

純功能用語是否明確,再探法院意見 - Eon Corp v. AT&T (Fed. Cir. 2015)

Eon Corp v. AT&T (Fed. Cir. 2015)

*PATENTLY-O對此案討論的前言提到專利法(以及法院意見)對於申請專利範圍明確性(112(b))的規定中要求「reasonable certainty」是源自刑法中超越合理懷疑的高標準(beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard),也就是將專利審查委員或法官比喻為刑法中的法官,判斷事實時要採取高標準,在專利範圍就是要有合理確實的條件,要超越合理的懷疑

2014年美國最高法院案例參考:最高法院對明確性的態度 - Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc.http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/06/nautilus-inc-v-biosig-instruments-inc.html

其中對於明確性(definiteness)的結論如下,專利是否明確,就以申請專利範圍來看,合格的專利範圍應能從申請專利範圍來看出所主張的發明範疇,其要件就是「合理的確實(reasonable certainty)」而讓相關技術人員可以得到發明的範疇。
... a patent is invalid for indefiniteness if its claims, read in light of the specification delineating the patent, and the prosecu­tion history, fail to inform, with reasonable certainty, those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention. ...

本案例涉及35U.S.C.112http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2008/09/112.html)相關條文:
(b) CONCLUSION.--The specification shall conclude with one or more claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter which the inventor or a joint inventor regards as the invention applicant regards as his invention.
(f) ELEMENT IN CLAIM FOR A COMBINATION.--An element in a claim for a combination may be expressed as a means or step for performing a specified function without the recital of structure, material, or acts in support thereof, and such claim shall be construed to cover the corresponding structure, material, or acts described in the specification and equivalents thereof.
(修改痕跡是AIA之後,貼自bitlaw.com

案例討論前言:申請專利範圍最模糊的寫法莫過於是「means-plus-function」,弔詭的是這種專利範圍的寫法卻多半保護更小的範圍。被認定是這類手段功能用語的寫法不限於「means for, step for」語法,而可涵蓋到一般功能性用語、以功能界定元件等的寫法,核駁理由就是因為專利範圍用語並無引述結構、材料、動作等元素來實現該功能,如此就產生不明確的核駁理由


本部落格多次討論相關議題,如:http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2013/10/blog-post_24.html

案例討論(Eon Corp v. AT&T (Fed. Cir. 2015)):
專利權人/原告/上訴人:EON CORPORATION
侵權被告/無效主張:FLO TV, AT&T
判決時間:5/6/2015
案例全文:http://cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/14-1392.Opinion.5-4-2015.1.PDF

系爭專利US5,663,757涉及軟體發明,為以軟體方法控制互動式電視的技術,讓消費者可以在觀賞電視的同時進行線上消費,就軟體方法而言,不可避免的就是以功能界定元件,或是以手段功能用語作為請求項主體,如其Claim 8:
8. A local subscriber's data processing station for a wireless television program communication network coupling together a set of interactive subscriber television receiver stations, comprising in combination,
an operation control system in said data processing station for controlling video signals, system operating modes and interactive communications available to the subscriber,
a television receiver with a video display screen, program control means and television program channel selection means,
a plurality of sources of video text and television program channels available from said network for individual presentation on said display screen in response to operator control by way of paid operation control system,
a programmable computer interconnected with said television receiver and said operation control system,
radio wave transmission and reception means for sending and receiving video and interactive control signal information wirelessly to and from the subscriber television receiver stations in said network including messages with subscriber identification, video text and control signals for said television receiver,
said operation control system providing local station organization and operation in different operating modes permitting various degrees of interactive participation by a local subscriber, including network communication interconnection between the subscriber television receiver stations, television program viewing options, fiscal transactions and audience response modes,
subscriber manual control means for interactive participation and operation of said operation control system over an authorized range of optional features,
monitoring means for generating video displays of instructions and interactive menus on said video screen related to said operating modes,
self contained software programs operable with said operation control system at the subscriber's data processing station for identifying program and operating mode options individually authorized to the subscriber for controlling the local station options by means of said software programs,
means responsive to said self contained software for establishing a mode of operation for selection of one of a plurality of authorized television program channels wherein a channel selection menu identifying authorized channels is displayed automatically on said video screen,
means establishing a first menu directed to different interactively selectable program theme subsets available from said authorized television program channels and means for causing selected themes to automatically display a second menu displaying available television programs relating to that selected theme, means responsive to said subscriber manual control means for selecting a preferred theme from said different themes presented when said first menu is displayed on said screen, and means in said control system for identifying on said second menu said television programs available relating to the selected theme.
專利權人EON在訴訟爭議有幾個重點:

A. The Katz Exception
這是EON爭辯專利具有結構特徵的論點,引用In re Katz Interactive Call Processing Patent Litigation, 639 F.3d 1303 (Fed. Cir. 2011)案例,主張即便沒有載入特定程式的一般目的電腦仍可實現專利相關功能。但法院不採,因為Katz例外討論過於狹隘。反之,法院的態度是載入特定程式的一般目的電腦可以成為有特定目的的電腦This court has since analyzed the “narrow” Katz exception once, finding that it did not apply.)。

B. Role of the Person of Ordinary Skill in the Art
專利權人EON主張如果發明相關技術人員可以實現該軟體功能,微處理器讓軟體功能即具備足夠的結構。法院意見表示,以一般電腦實現手段功能用語的專利範圍時,說明書是否已經揭露特定演算法(特定程式)為一個判斷基礎,並非僅考慮相關技術人員是否可實施,這是要符合35U.S.C.112(f)的規定。
"our case law regarding special purpose computer-implemented means-plus-functions claims is divided into two distinct groups: First, cases in which the specification discloses no algorithm; and second, cases in which the specification does disclose an algorithm"
"the question before us is whether the specification contains a sufficiently precise description of the ‘corresponding structure’ to satisfy section 112, paragraph 6, not whether a person of skill in the art could devise some means to carry out the recited function."

C. Application of the Algorithm Requirement to this Case
CAFC確認地院作出專利範圍不明確的決定,且確認軟體發明中演算法(手段)的必要性。

侵權訴訟經簡易判決之後轉向專利明確性與無效的爭議,以下幾點提到專利無效的議題:

結論:
請求項中功能用語缺乏相關技術手段的揭示,也沒有對應的結構特徵,不符35U.S.C.112(f)的手段功能用語的揭露規定,而CAFC法官更進一步認為,如果是以軟體功能來描述一個技術,其中演算法(技術手段)應為必要揭露要件,因此專利無效。


後語:
如果專利範圍要符合Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig案例的高標準就麻煩了,要明確,又要超越合理的懷疑,如果是這樣,就只好讓申請專利範圍準確地指向發明本身,而沒有模糊的空間。

但多數美國CAFC並不見得會以這標準作為明確性的判斷標準,因為語言本身仍是具有一定的模糊空間,連法院的結論都有不少解釋空間。

若以軟體方法描述發明申請專利範圍,應適當地在說明書或權利範圍中揭露實施範例、演算法等。

本案中,CAFC對於軟體相關發明的可專利性判斷時認為,如果一般目的的電腦載有特定目的的程式即變成具有特殊目的的電腦("the general purpose computer becomes a special purpose computer when loaded with the special programming"),這太重要了,因此程式演算法應該適當揭示。

補充:
Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig案例中,CAFC的態度是如果請求項的範圍根據說明書內容與審查歷史(內部證據)都無法讓相關技術人員了解發明的範疇,才可以因為不明確而無效專利;除非是權利範圍有無法解決的模糊(insolubly ambiguous),否則在權利範圍可以透過修正建構時,不能排除具有明確性的可能。

該案最高法院的態度認為CAFC的說法仍有偏差(指insolubly ambiguous),認為申請專利範圍,經參考說明書所指的專利、審查歷史,都無法合理而確實地讓相關技術人員無法得到其發明範疇,如此專利將因不符明確性而無效。

資料參考:
http://cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/14-1392.Opinion.5-4-2015.1.PDF
http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2014/06/nautilus-inc-v-biosig-instruments-inc.html
http://patentlyo.com/patent/2015/05/pure-functional-claiming.html

Ron