Unitalen Defended Client against “Magnetic levitation” Patent Infringement Suit

December 16, 2016

Posted on December 15, 2016


“Maglev (Magnetic levitation)” is a technology that uses magnetic force against gravity to levitate objects. As known, there are 3 kinds of “maglev” technologies: one is the “routine conductive maglev” led by Germany, the second is “superconductive maglev” led by Japan, both of which require electricity power to generate maglev force; and the third is China’s “permanent maglev” which, by using a special permanent magnetic material, doesn’t require any other power support.


The plaintiff, Guangdong Zhaoqing HCNT Technology Ltd. is the owner of No. 200610065336.1 invention patent concerning “Magnetic-repellent suspension device”, and had won more than 10 patent infringement suits across the country.


On July 27, 2015, the plaintiff filed a suit before Hangzhou Intermediate Court alleging against Shenzhen Hong Xin Tuo Pu Electronic Technology Ltd. (the defendant) for selling in large quantity infringing products on Alibaba and T-Mall online stores, along with the claim for an indemnity of 500,000 yuan and other reasonable legal fees.


Entrusted by the defendant, Unitalen attended court hearing with four defenses: 1) prior art defense; 2) doctrine of estoppels, as the plaintiff had voluntarily narrowed down the protection scope of its patent, namely “the levitation object is permanent magnetic levitation object instead of electric magnetic levitation object”; 3) the protection scope of the claims shall be interpreted as being limited to “one ring-shaped permanent magnet” rather than “one and more ring-shaped permanent magnet(s)” despite the open-ended claim with the word “including”; and 4) the technical feature described in claim 1 is a “functional limitation”, under which circumstances the Court shall determine the content of the technical feature by making reference to the specific implementing methods or equivalent methods described in the specifications and drawings, according to Judicial Interpretations concerning patent disputes. But due to the plaintiff’s failure to take on its own “burden of proof” by resorting to judicial expertise, there is no target comparable to the technical solution of the alleged infringing product.   


On August 24, 2016, Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court issued the first instance judgment dismissing all of the plaintiff’s claims. According to the court, the plaintiff shall bear the burden to prove the establishment of infringement, the precondition for which is that the alleged infringing product possesses the technical features identical with or equivalents to all of the technical features under the plaintiff’s claims. As the plaintiff withdrew its applications for judicial expertise and professional assistant due to the concern of the high cost, the technical features under the functional limitation cannot be compared one by one, thus it cannot be determined whether the alleged infringing product falls within the protection scope of the patent at issue. Therefore, the patent infringement claims submitted by the plaintiff shall not be sustained.