Doctrine of Equivalents Simple but Complicated Doctrine of

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Doctrine of Equivalents Simple, but Complicated

Doctrine of Equivalents Simple, but Complicated

Doctrine of Equivalents ● In 2016/2017 the German FSC specified in its case law

Doctrine of Equivalents ● In 2016/2017 the German FSC specified in its case law on Doctrine of Equivalents in a number of decisions. ● In the decision “Heat Exchanger” the FSC in 2016 assumed infringement of a patent in suit with equivalent means and recurred after a long row of decisions to the basic requirements established over the years. ● FSC applied its three step test established in a series of older decisions from 2001/2002 (Schneidmesser etc. ), in which the FSC made a distinction between terms in a claim on the one hand numbers and ranges on the other. Page 2

Doctrine of Equivalents The test includes the following steps: ● “Does the variant have

Doctrine of Equivalents The test includes the following steps: ● “Does the variant have the same technical effect? ” ● “If yes, was the variant available to the person skilled in the art on the application date? ” ● “Would the person skilled in the art consider the variant actually as a comparable embodiment, when considering the meaningful content of the patent claim? ” Page 3

Doctrine of Equivalents ● In the “Heat Exchanger” case the FSC answered this question

Doctrine of Equivalents ● In the “Heat Exchanger” case the FSC answered this question positively, in particular because the claim as well as the specification didn’t require a specific design for the (separated) source for the heat. ● The skilled person would focus on the purpose of the separated heat source as described in the patent in the first place. ● Given this, the skilled person would consider the (electric) heat source in question as an alternative, but comparable embodiment. Page 4

Doctrine of Equivalents ● In its 2017 decision “Pemetrexed” the FSC eludes on the

Doctrine of Equivalents ● In its 2017 decision “Pemetrexed” the FSC eludes on the so called “ 3 rd question” and modifies standing case law in cases where the wording of the claim relates only to a specific embodiment of the invention, whereas further embodiments are mentioned in the patent specification as alternatives. ● The FSC elaborates on the selection of one alternative in the claim by the patentee if in theory multiple alternatives have the same effect and were available at the application / priority date. ● Criteria: Did patentee make a positive selection by including only one embodiment of multiple possible embodiments in the claim? Page 5

Doctrine of Equivalents ● In “Pemetrexed” a variant was alleged to be infringing that

Doctrine of Equivalents ● In “Pemetrexed” a variant was alleged to be infringing that wasn’t literally claimed and wasn’t – at least not explicitly – mentioned in the specification. ● Only a similar group of substances was described. ● In such a case there is no need to limit the scope of protection only to the substance that is explicitly mentioned in the claim and there is room for infringement under the Doctrine of Equivalents. Page 6

Doctrine of Equivalents ● Further interesting aspect in the “Pemetrexed”: limitations of the claim

Doctrine of Equivalents ● Further interesting aspect in the “Pemetrexed”: limitations of the claim made by patentee during prosecution in order to avoid an insufficiency of disclosure objection should not per se be taken into account when determining the scope of the patent claim. ● Otherwise, one would introduce the concept of “file history estoppel” in infringement proceedings. Page 7

Thank you Bird & Bird is an international legal practice comprising Bird & Bird

Thank you Bird & Bird is an international legal practice comprising Bird & Bird LLP and its affiliated and associated businesses. Bird & Bird LLP is a limited liability partnership, registered in England Wales with registered number OC 340318 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Its registered office and principal place of business is at 12 New Fetter Lane, London EC 4 A 1 JP. A list of members of Bird & Bird LLP and of any non-members who are designated as partners, and of their respective professional qualifications, is open to inspection at that address. twobirds. com