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News about the doctrine of equivalence in German case law

The doctrine of equivalence has seen some kind of renaissance in German case law recently. In short words, there are three questions to be asked to decide for equivalent infringement if there is no literal infringement. The first one being the question about the effect of the different solution. Do the means used to solve the problem underlying the invention objectively have the same effect? If so, would this different solution have been discovered by the man skilled in the art at the time of the priority date? The objective of this second question to be asked is whether it was kind of obvious to use the different approach instead even though it does not fall under the literal meaning of the [...]

Higher Regional Court Dusseldorf Grants a Patent Co-owner a Right to Compensation

In its decision of 7 August 2014 (docket no. I-2 U 91/13 – ‘Garage Roller Door’), the Higher Regional Court Dusseldorf granted a non-using patent co-owner a right to compensation from the other co-owner that uses the patent and profits from this use. The parties are competitors in the field of manufacturing and selling garage roller doors. The Court granted the right on the basis of equity under Sec. 745 (2) German Civil Code, since the following conditions were fulfilled: (1) the co-owner’s contribution (5%) to the patented invention as laid down in claim 1 of the patent was actually used in the other co-owner’s products, (2) an explicit claim to compensation by the contributing c [...]

What happened to/in Summer 2014 in Germany?

To the extent that summer 2014 existed at all in central Europe, experts agree that it is now definitely over. There is some controversy whether we ever had summer in Germany this year, but at least it was proven that life without air conditioning is possible.

Meanwhile, the Munich IP Community is busily preparing for Oktoberfest starting tomorrow. So while we are all still sober, time for a litte summary on the latest developments in the case law of the German Federal Court of Justice (FCJ) in “Summer” 2014.

In one decision (X ZR 36/13), the FCJ took the opportunity to explain its current thinking on the scope of equivalence a bit further. In the decision under appeal, the Higher Regional C [...]

Germany: Kommunikationskanal, Federal Court of Justice 11 February 2014

The FCJ held that the priority of an earlier application may be rightfully claimed if the technical information described for a specific embodiment or otherwise in in the application is seen by the skilled person as an example for the more general invention disclosed in the later application and if this more general teaching was disclosed in the prior application as part of the invention.

The full summary of this case has been published on Kluwer IP Law.

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Germany: Anthocyanverbinding, Federal Court of Justice 10 December 2013

The FCJ held that legal provisions in force at the priority date must be taken into consideration when assessing novelty and inventive step of an invention. These legal provisions may incite the skilled person to work in a certain direction so that this makes the invention obvious.

The full summary of this case has been published on Kluwer IP Law.

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Infringement proceedings outside Germany do not provide justification for a negative declaratory action in Germany regarding the same European patent

The Higher Regional Court Düsseldorf has ruled in its decision of 20 March 2014 (docket number 12 W 8.14) that an explicit allegation of entitlement to a national part of a European patent, e.g. by sending a warning letter or the filing of a court action, does not include an implicit allegation of entitlement (stillschweigende Berühmung) to the other parts of the same European patent in the respective other countries, nor does this provide grounds for declaratory interest (Feststellungsinteresse) in Germany, i.e. a legitimate interest in filing a negative declaratory action regarding the German part of the European patent.

The circumstances resulting in the German proceedings were infringe [...]

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