Case Involving Infringement of Patent For "Bicycle Accessories"

China IP,[Patent]

 

In the case of infringement of invention patent rights, if a technical feature is identified as a functional technical feature, the indispensable implementation disclosed in the specification will be the limited content of the functional technical feature. At this time, the protection scope of the patent right will be reduced; if the technical feature is determined to be not a functional technical feature, the protection scope of the patent right will be relatively larger.
 
First-instance case number: (2015) Guangdong Intellectual Property Court Civil Judgement No. 2245
 
Second-instance case number: (2017) Guangdong Final Civil Judgement No. 2830
 
【The main takeaway of the trial】
 
To determine whether a technical feature is a functional technical feature, it should not only be understood from the literal meaning of the technical feature of the claim, but should also be combined with the technical problem to be solved, the beneficial effect of the patent in question, and whether the person skilled in the art can learn from the known technology and other factors to understand. Otherwise, it is possible to mistake it as a non-functional feature just because of some insignificant or incomplete structure and action relationships disclosed in the technical features of the claims involved, but ignore whether the essential structural technical features for realizing the beneficial effects of the present invention have been fully disclosed.
 
【Case Introduction】
 
Plaintiff: Shimano Corporation
 
Defendant: Guangdong Shunde SENSAH Co., Ltd. (referred to as SENSAH)
 
Shimano Corporation is the patentee of the invention named "a variable speed operating device for bicycle", and the patent number is ZL200610084877.9. It believes that SENSAH has infringed its aforementioned patent rights and sued the court to order SENSAH to stop the infringement and compensate for losses.
 
The Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court held that the technical feature 1.4 in claim 1 of the involved patent is a functional technical feature. According to the second embodiment of the specification and the attached drawings, the technical feature of the function can be clearly realized. Therefore, through comparison, it can be seen that the technical means of the alleged infringing product are basically the same as the technical means of the aforementioned patent, and the technical effects and functions of the two are the same. Therefore, it is determined that the alleged infringing product has 1.4 technical features. As for the 1.5 technical features, the court of the first instance held that the features described the movement relationship between the first operating component and the mounting part and the position holding/release mechanism and were not technical features limited by their functions or effects in the invention. Therefore, it is not a functional technical feature. After comparison, the alleged infringing product also has this technical feature. In addition, the alleged infringing product also possesses all the technical features that are disputed by the other parties. In summary, the court of the first instance determined that the alleged infringing product fell within the scope of patent protection in this case and that SENSAH constituted an infringement and ruled that it should stop the infringement and compensate for the losses.
 
SENSAH refused to accept the judgment of the first instance and appealed to the Guangdong Higher People's Court. The court of second instance held that the focus of the dispute in the second instance was whether the alleged infringing product had 1.4 and 1.5 technical features. Regarding 1.4 technical features, it is a functional technical feature. According to the patent specification and its drawings, the structure of the position holding/release mechanism and the way to achieve this function can be known. Comparing it with the alleged infringement technical solution, there are two differences between the anti-moving claw and the engagement and separation of the second arm of the driving part and the positioning claw. The two are not the same or equivalent. Therefore, the alleged infringing product does not possess the technical feature 1.4 of the patent involved. As for the technical feature 1.5, although it defines the structural relationship and movement relationship between the first operating component and the mounting portion, this technical feature does not limit the structural relationship and movement between the first component and the mounting portion that are indispensable for the function described. Based on the foregoing description and the prior art, those skilled in the art cannot know what structure the first operating component has to achieve the purpose of the invention in this patent. Therefore, this feature is a functional technical feature. After determining the technical features that realize the function based on the contents disclosed in the specification and drawings, the corresponding technical features of the alleged infringing product are equivalent to 1.5 technical features after comparison. Since the alleged infringing product did not have the technical feature 1.4, it did not fall into the scope of the patent protection involved, and SENSAH did not constitute an infringement. Therefore, the court of the second instance changed its judgment: Dismiss all Shimano's claims.
 
【Typical meaning】
 
In the case of infringement of invention patent rights, if a technical feature is identified as a functional technical feature, the indispensable implementation disclosed in the specification will be the limited content of the functional technical feature. At this time, the protection scope of the patent right will be reduced; if the technical feature is determined to be not a functional technical feature, the protection scope of the patent right will be relatively larger. Therefore, in a case, clarifying which technical features are functional features will be related to the determination of the scope of patent protection.
 
In this case, although the content of 1.5 technical feature of claim 1 of the involved patent has clearly described the structural relationship and movement relationship between the first operating member and the mounting part, the first operating member "makes the position holding/ release mechanism actuate" Furthermore, the manner in which the function of "moving the above-mentioned cable locking body respectively to the above-mentioned cable release direction" is realized cannot be directly obtained from the content of the aforementioned technical features, the specification, and the description of the prior art. This function is directly related to the technical problem to be solved by the patent involved and is the point of invention of the patent involved. Therefore, the aforementioned technical features are functional technical features.
 
The judgment of this case clearly analyzed the issues related to the identification of functional technical features. It fairly resolved the disputes between the world-renowned bicycle parts manufacturers and domestic private enterprises, which is of reference significance for the trial of similar cases.

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