In 2019 the IP Tribunal of the Supreme People's Court confirmed that a physical mobile phone was eligible prior art in assessing the novelty and inventiveness of a patent. The tribunal clarified that a party that asserts a physical object as prior art must specify the asserted prior technical solution, specify the corresponding relation between such prior technical solution and the physical object and prove or demonstrate that the public can intuitively obtain the technical solution from the physical object.
The Patent Law provides that a design for which a patent is granted must significantly differ from prior designs. Further, the similarity between a patent design and a prior design must be determined from the perspective of ordinary consumers in the relevant market. To this end, the Supreme People's Court uses certain parameters, including so-called 'design space'. This article analyses the application of these parameters in a recent design patent administrative suit.
In patent infringement disputes, it is possible to narrowly construe a feature to the specific embodiment and its equivalent embodiment by arguing that a claimed feature is a functional one. The accused infringer usually adopts this strategy in its non-infringement defence to narrowly construe the scope of patent protection to obtain a favourable position in the infringement comparison. A recent case serves as a reference on how to determine the functional features in patent infringement disputes.
The Beijing IP Court handles a substantial number of cases each year. Despite a 90% increase in the number of concluded cases since 2015, the court remains under enormous pressure to reduce its case backlog, of which patent administrative cases account for a considerable proportion. In order to reduce this backlog, the court recently began enlisting technical investigators and jurors with technical expertise in court proceedings.