In a reminder to businesses that the protection of original products from competition is not easily achieved, the Court of Appeal has given guidance on the correct approach to the principle of ‘added matter’ in intellectual property cases and has restored a company’s valuable patent in respect of a novel brake caliper design.
The company had launched proceedings against the manufacturers of rival products which were said to infringe the relevant patent. However, the Patents County Court dismissed the claim on the basis that the patent was invalid by virtue of Section 72(1)(d) of the Patents Act 1977 in that the matter disclosed in the specification of the patent extended beyond that disclosed in the application for the same.
In allowing the company’s appeal, the Court carried out a fresh analysis of the facets of the design that made it unique. The Court found that the novel features of the design were adequately disclosed in the application and that matter subsequently added to the specification did not invalidate the patent.
The rival manufacturers’ other attacks on the validity of the patent – based on alleged insufficiency of detail and obviousness – had been rejected by the Patent County Court which found that, had the patent been valid, infringement would have been established in respect of four of the five products complained of.