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T 1843/09: the EPO clarifies the scope of the prohibition of reformatio in peius

The recent decision T 1843/09 clarifies that the exception to the prohibition of reformatio in peius set out in G 1/99 in order to overcome an objection under Article 123(2) EPC is not the only exception. According to the Technical Board of Appeal, exceptions to this principle are a matter of equity in order to protect a non-appealing Proprietor against procedural discrimination in circumstances where the prohibition of reformatio in peius would impair the legitimate defence of its patent.

T248/12, European Patent Office (Appeals Court), 5 March 2013

The Board observed that it could not be understood that the “technical relevance” criterion, proposed by another board in T 1906/11 for judging extension of subject matter, defines a new standard for judging amendments with respect to Article 123(2) in the case of intermediate generalizations. Instead, the Board had to decide whether the technical information inferred by the skilled person was new having regard to the content of the original application as filed.

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Plasma Torch / Agilent, European Patent Office (EPO Board of Appeal), 25 February 2013

An amendment of independent patent claim 1 during prosecution introduced a new feature. According to the Examining Division this led to the combinations of features of dependent claims 2-4 to extend beyond the disclosure of the application as filed (Art. 123(2) EPC). The Board of Appeal held that the focus of the Examining Division was disproportionally directed to the structure of the claims as filed and did not uphold the ED’s decision, because the disclosure directly and unambiguously referred to a variation of but not an alternative to the embodiment disclosed in the application as filed.

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Non-disclosed Disclaimers and the “Remaining Subject-Matter Test” of G 2/10

The main principles applicable for assessing whether a non-disclosed disclaimer meets the requirements of Article 123(2) EPC have been laid out in the decision G 1/03 of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) of the EPO. In the recent decision G 2/10 dated September 19, 2011 a new test for assessing the allowability of non-disclosed disclaimers, the so called “Remaining Subject-Matter Test”, has been established. In applying this test, disclaimers which in the past would have been considered to be allowable in view of G 1/03 may now be (and actually have been)found to actually be in violation of Article 123(2) EPC.

Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd v. Jet Airways (India) Ltd, High Court Chancery Division (High Court Chancery Division), 27 July 2012

The Court held that a decision by the EPO relating to the UK designation was not capable of challenge. In any event, the procedure chosen by the claimant to challenge the decision (an application to correct the UKIPO register based on Rule 50 of the Patents Rules 2007) was wrong, because it required the consent of the claimant (which would clearly not have been forthcoming). An application for rectification of the Register under section 34 Patents Act 1977 should have been used.

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Needles in the UK Patents County Court

Liversidge v (1) Owen Mumford Limited (2) Abbott Laboratories Limited

In April 2011, the claimant commenced patent infringement proceedings in the UK Patents County Court (“PCC”) against the defendants in respect of European Patent No. 2067496 entitled “Medical Injector”. The defendants denied infringement and counterclaimed invalidity.

The claimant filed a patent application for a safety arrangement for a medical needle in June 2003. It was for a normal (non-autoinjector) syringe and all of the disclosure and claims related to the safety arrangement. In 2006, the second defendant launched the Humira Pen in the UK (an autoinjector delivery syringe containing the Humira [...]

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