As every gardener knows, conventional garden hoses have an infuriating tendency to kink and tangle. However, the problem of untidy sheds looks like being solved once and for all by a ground-breaking new product that promises to become a market leader following a Patents Court ruling.
The hose expands when water flows through it but contracts to a compact and easily manageable state when empty. However, the makers of a rival product that performs similarly argued that the hose’s design was obvious and lacking in novelty and that the patent protecting it was thus invalid.
It was submitted, amongst other things, that the design would have been self-evident to any skilled designer of garden hoses, however unimaginative, in the light of previously published ideas for a pressure-activated water tube and a self-elongating oxygen hose for the use of aviation crews.
However, in upholding the validity of the patent, the Court found significant differences between the hose’s design and the relevant prior art. The aviation-related design, in particular, was meant to be employed in a very different environment and did not have fittings suitable for it to be used as a garden hose.
The rival manufacturer had accepted that its own product infringed the patent, if it were valid. The Court’s ruling thus means that putting the rival product on the market would amount to a breach of Section 60(2) of the Patents Act 1977.