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專利審查中因為有欺瞞行為致生不公平行為,最後導致無法主張專利權之案例討論

專利審查中因為有欺瞞行為致生不公平行為,最後導致無法主張專利權之案例討論

潘榮恩 主任

本篇為不公平行為(Inequitable Conduct)導致不能主張專利權的案例討論,案例為CAFC對於Exergen Corporation v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2009)的決定中產生有關不公平行為(Inequitable Conduct)導致不能主張專利權的議題。

案件資訊:

原告/專利權人:EXERGEN CORPORATION

被告:WAL-MART STORES, INC. HANA MICROELECTRONICS CO., LTD., and CVS CORPORATION, S.A.A.T. SYSTEMS APPLICATION OF ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY, LTD. and DAIWA PRODUCTS, INC.

系爭專利:U.S. Patents No.5,012,813 (“the ’813 patent”), No. 6,047,205 (“the ’205 patent”), and No. 6,292,685 (“the ’685 patent”)

系爭專利關於量測體溫的紅外線溫度計,感測人體的紅外線輻射,可以量測耳溫與額溫,但就申請專利範圍而言,自然是不希望限制僅能量測到這些部位的體溫。

01

被告侵權物,如SAAT製造的體溫計是透過輻射偵測,將皮膚表面的溫度轉換為口內體溫

地方法院:

Exergen2001年提出侵權告訴,被告提出反訴,主張專利無效與不侵權,甚至於2002年提出民事程序,主張'813'685專利有不公平行為(inequitable conduct),但地方法院否決此請願(motion),理由是不滿足聯邦民事程序的Rule 9(b)

在地方法院階段,被告被判蓄意侵權成立claim 7 of '813claims 1, 3-5 of '205直接侵權,claims 1, 27-30 of '685誘使侵權),並作出損害賠償(2.5百萬美元)之判決。

2007年,對於地院駁回被告如S.A.A.T. Systems主張'813'685因為不公平行為(inequitable conduct)而不能行使專利權的請願,S.A.A.T. Systems提出上訴;原告也提出上訴(cross-appeal),要求更高賠償損失金額,以及利息。

CAFC階段:

首先,CAFC審理專利有效性,作出'205專利無效的決定,其中涉及請求項中的開放式用語"comprising""including but not limited to"):

The transition ‘comprising’ in a method claim indicates that the claim is open-ended and allows for additional steps.

接著在侵權的討論時,舉例來說,對於claim 7 of '813,因為SAAT是一種前額體溫器,顯示的溫度不是如請求項所載的「internal temperature」,只是在地院解釋「internal temperature」是生物組織表面下的溫度,因此認為有落入申請專利範圍中,但CAFC法官認為,SAAT體溫計是顯示經過轉換為口內體溫的溫度,而非直接顯示前額的「顳動脈」體溫,雖然Exergen主張口內溫度也是一種「internal temperature」,但CAFC法官認定被告產品不同於系爭專利顯示前額溫度,因此被告侵權不成立。

'813專利請求項7

7. A radiation detector comprising:

a thermopile mounted to view a target of biological surface tissue;

a temperature sensor for sensing ambient temperature;

an electronic circuit coupled to the thermopile and temperature sensor and responsive to the voltage across the thermopile and the temperature sensed by the sensor to provide an indication of an internal temperature within the biological tissue adjusted for the ambient temperature to which the surface tissue is exposed; and

a display for providing an indication of the internal temperature.

對於'685專利,請求項1清楚界定出如何操作體溫計量測體溫,而SAAT指示的量測體溫的步驟並不同於'685之申請專利範圍的流程,因此侵權不成立,沒有直接侵權,也沒有誘使侵權。

'685專利請求項1

1. A method of detecting human body temperature comprising:

laterally scanning a temperature detector across a forehead; and

providing a peak temperature reading from plural readings during the step of scanning.

對於'685專利不侵權的決定,由於'685專利界定的是偵測體溫的方法,顯然因為被告侵權物沒有這個操作流程而避免了"直接"侵權的判定,但對於是否使用SAAT體溫計可以相同步驟量測體溫,理由是兩者量測體溫的原理並不相同。

'685專利係透過皮膚溫度與週邊溫度計算"顳動脈"核心溫度(core temperature),不同於SAAT體溫計直接量測包括"顳動脈"的皮膚表面溫度,如此判斷侵權不成立。

02

'685專利說明書也證實這樣的量測溫度的原理:

03

Inequitable Conduct」:

SAAT列舉系爭專利在審查歷史的欺瞞行為,關於符合不公平行為的要件,涉及民事程序Rule 9(b),就是要證明有欺騙的特殊性,也就是條件頗為嚴格,不能用隱含的意思,要有明確的證據例如,若要證明申請人在申請時隱瞞已知先前技術,就要指出哪些先前技術是申請人申請時已知但不指出的前案,不能含糊帶過,甚至要提出人、事、時、地、物,還要證明申請人有欺瞞的意圖(心理狀態)

以下列舉判決書中針對Rule 9(b)提出的要件:

"Rule 9(b) requires that “[i]n all averments of fraud or mistake, the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake shall be stated with particularity.”"

Rule 9(b) requires that the pleadings contain explicit rather than implied expression of the circumstances constituting fraud.

"Rule 9(b) requires identification of the specific who, what, when, where, and how of the material misrepresentation or omission committed before the PTO."

"Rule 9(b) also states that “[m]alice, intent, knowledge, and other conditions of mind of a person may be averred generally.”"

欺瞞的心理狀態包括:(1)虛假陳述與隱瞞重要資訊;(2)欺騙意圖

"The relevant “conditions of mind” for inequitable conduct include: (1) knowledge of the withheld material information or of the falsity of the material misrepresentation, and (2) specific intent to deceive the PTO."

在如此嚴格的條件下,SAAT提出的不公平行為的主張因為不充分而被駁回。

結論:

CAFC大翻盤,認為'205專利無效,對'205專利侵權不成立;認為原告Exergen並未提出實質證據支持地院陪審團作出'813'685侵權成立的決定,侵權不成立;因此,地院作出的利益賠償決定也被駁回。

對於地院否決被告S.A.A.T. Systems提出的不公平行為導致專利權不能主張的請願,CAFC同意地方法院的決定,理由是式S.A.A.T.沒有提出符合Rule 9(b)不公平行為使得專利無法主張的條件("heightened pleading requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b)")。

判決書:

http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/06-1491.pdf

(備份:https://app.box.com/s/5kzog0fa1aadmby2gjjn9zbo6do9wv8j

外部文件參考:

WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING: THE APPLICATION BY THE DISTRICT COURTS OF RULE 9(b) TO INEQUITABLE CONDUCT(這裡討論法院錯誤使用Rule 9(b)

http://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1297&context=mulr

其他補充:

以「不公平行為」作為辯護的基礎源自美國最高法院1945年「Precision Instrument Manufacturing v. Automotive Maintenance Machine Co.」判決,在此判決之後,美國國會於1952年立法在專利侵權訴訟中以「不公平行為」抗辯可導致「無法主張專利權("unenforceability")」的結果。

不公平行為(inequitable conduct對導致專利無法實施(unenforceable)的案例可參考過去報導:

Intellect Wireless v. hTC:不公平行為而無法主張專利權(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2013/10/intellect-wireless-v-htc.html

不公平行為(inequitable conduct)就是專利申請人有欺騙行為("fraud"),對專利申請案而言,包括違反揭露義務、欺瞞事實等,如此專利審查階段可能駁回專利;在法院階段就是無法主張專利權。

MPEP 2016

"A finding of “fraud,” “inequitable conduct,” or violation of duty of disclosure with respect to any claim in an application or patent, renders all the claims thereof unpatentable or invalid."

Rule 9(b),要證明不公平行為的要件有:

(1) 專利申請案的申請與審查答辯中有虛假陳述事實、隱藏資訊,或是提供錯誤資訊等;以及

(2) 蓄意欺騙專利局。

"The substantive elements of inequitable conduct are: (1) an individual associated with the filing and prosecution of a patent application made an affirmative misrepresentation of a material fact, failed to disclose material information, or submitted false material information; and (2) the individual did so with a specific intent to deceive the PTO."

 
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