In United States patent law, patent holders must go to the federal courts to enforce their patent rights. Even if the patent is valid and infringed, these courts may exercise their equitable discretion not to enforce the patent if the patentee has engaged in inequitable conduct. The patent applicant has a duty of candor and good faith to the US Patent and Trademark Office when applying for their patent. Breach of this duty constitutes inequitable conduct, which includes the following: (a) failure to submit prior art likely to be deemed relevant; (b) failure to explain references in a foreign language or submit pre-existing full or partial translations of the references; (c) misstatements of fact, including misstatements in affidavits concerning patentability; and (d) mis-description of inventorship.

The party asking the court to decline to enforce the patent, usually the alleged infringer, bears the burden of proving inequitable conduct to the court. This party must show by clear and convincing evidence that the patentee intentionally withheld or misrepresented material information. Proven inequitable conduct in any claim can lead the entire patent to be unenforceable.

當申請專利的時候,申請人/發明人有義務在申請過程中對美國專利商標局維持以誠信的態度來申請。當違反下列幾點的時候,則可能被認定屬"不正當行為":a) 未揭露已知與本發明有關之前案; b) 未解釋已知與本案有關之外國語文件,或是未將部份或全部的翻譯文件揭露; c) 扭曲事實; d) 提供錯誤的發明人資料。

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法院:美國聯邦巡迴上訴法院 (Fed. Cir. 2007)
原告:McKesson information solutions (上訴人)
被告:Bridge Medical (被上訴人)
相關規範: IDS; Inequitable conduct

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Law - Information Disclosure Statement

In a court of law, issued U.S. patents enjoy a presumption that they are valid and enforceable against infringers. If, however, an alleged infringer can show that background art references were in existence on the filing date of the application and that those references were not considered by the Examiner in his/her examination of the application, the presumption of validity is weakened. Examiners are only human and do not always find all the background art that bears on patentability issues. For this reason, it is important that applicants bring to the attention of Examiners any background art that he/she should have considered. In addition, applicants, their representatives and any others associated with filing and prosecution of U.S. patent applications have a "duty of disclosure" to the USPTO to disclose any information known to the individual to be "material to patentability" of a claimed invention. This information is submitted in a specified format and is called an Information Disclosure Statement (IDS). Patent Partner reminds the user of the date before which an IDS can be submitted without the payment of a fee. The date is the earlier of the U.S. filing date plus 3 months or the mailing date of the first Office action on the merits of the applicaiton.

The position of the USPTO on this issue is described in the following section(s) of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP):

MPEP 609 - Information Disclosure Statement

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法院:美國聯邦巡迴上訴法院 (Fed. Cir. 2007)
原告:Festo Corp. (上訴人)
被告:SMC Corp. (被上訴人)
系爭專利號: US4,354,125
相關規範: Doctrine of Equivalents (DOE); Doctrine of Prosecution History Estoppel

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Prosecution history estoppel, also known as file-wrapper estoppel, is a term used in United States patent law to indicate that a person who has filed a patent application, and then makes amendments to the application to accommodate the patent law, has no cause of action for infringement to the pre-amendment patent claims that were amended.

Although primarily a US term, questions of whether, or the extent to which the prosecution history should be relevant for determining the extent of protection of a patent also arise outside the US


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In the United States, there are two tests for determining whether an accused device or process is deemed to be equivalent. Under the first test (Graver Tank & Manufacturing Co. v. Linde Air Products Co., (1950)), called the "triple identity" test, something is deemed equivalent if:

It performs substantially the same function
in substantially the same way
to yield substantially the same result.

Under the second test (Warner-Jenkinson Co. v. Hilton Davis Chem. Co. (1997)) something is deemed equivalent if there is only an "insubstantial change" between each of the elements of the accused device or process and each of the elements of the patent claim. One limitation that has been placed on this doctrine is prosecution history estoppel, which prevents a claim from being made for infringement where the difference is something that the patentee had abandoned through an amendment to the patent. It is generally considered the case that the second test builds on the first test in a doctrine of equivalents analysis.

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en banc

發音(on bonk)

French for "in the bench," it signifies a decision by the full court of all the appeals judges in jurisdictions where there is more than one three- or four-judge panel. The larger number sit in judgment when the court feels there is a particularly significant issue at stake or when requested by one or both parties to the case and agreed to by the court.


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法院:美國聯邦巡迴上訴法院 (Fed. Cir. 2007)
原告:Gilbert P. Hyatt (被上訴人)
被告:Jon W. Dudas, Director, Patent and Trademark Office (上訴人)
相關規範: 35 USC 112* (Written description); MPEP § 2163.04(I)(B)**


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法院:美國聯邦巡迴上訴法院 (Fed. Cir. 2007)
原告:Saunders Group, INC.
被告:Comfortrac, Inc.
系爭專利號: US6,899,690
相關規範: 延續案 (continuation)

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法院:美國聯邦巡迴上訴法院 (Fed. Cir. 2007)
被告:Waters technologies, GE, Agilent technologies
系爭專利號: US 6,602,502
相關法條: 35 USC 112 ¶ 2* & 35 USC 112 ¶ 6**

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法院:美國聯邦巡迴上訴法院 (Fed. Cir. 2007)
原告:Motionless Keyboard Company
被告:Microsoft, Nokia, and Saitek Iindustries
系爭專利號: US 5178477 and US 5332322 (係 US5178477 之 CIP)
相關法條: 35 USC 102(b)*

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