SEB, a French company, was granted Chinese invention patent No. 200580018875.3 for a dry fryer (patent at issue) on Sep 9, 2009. Entrusted by Jarden Corporation, a British company, Unitalen put up a team of seven lawyers and patent attorneys working on invalidation of the patent at issue since 2010. October 20, 2015, the Patent Reexamination Board made a decision to maintain the patent at issue on the grounds that the tehnical solution of the disputed patent is an invention opening up a whole new field, which is completely different from the prior arts of cooking baskets for oil bath frying, baking ovens and stir-fry pan, and that the patentee created the terminology "dry frying" as well as the cooking method and the corresponding device expressed by the terminology.
Dissatified with the Decision, Unitalen team kept searching for more prior art evidences, and found Beijing Intermediate Court once gave a different conclusion in an administrative litigation concerning invlidation of No. 200910159735.8 patent, a divisional of the patent issue, that “dry frying” as a distinguishing technical feature is a usage or a method feature, which cannot affect the determination of the novelty and inventive step of a product if it is merely a description of the usage of or method of the product claimed for protection. In addition, Unitalen team located two pieces of evidence of common knowledge, namely 1) “Food Industry Manual” published by China Light Industry Press in January 2002 indicates “frying in a flat bottom pan with a thin layer of fat (dry frying, little oil)” is one of the two ways of frying; and 2) “Electrothermal Cooking Utensiles” published by South China University of Technology Press in August 1990 records the ways how heat is converted as nothing more than conduction, convection and vortexing.
With the newly found evidence, Unitalen team initiated another invalidation proceeding against the patent at issue. On March 1, 2017, Patent Reexamination Board made the 8th decision on the patent at issue and declared that all its 34 claims shall be invalid for lacking novelty and inventive step.
Unitalen will pay close attention to the possible administrative procedures to follow.
According to Patent Examination Guidelines, based on the nature of the distinguishing features of the invention from the closest prior art, inventions are divided into six types: invention opening up a whole new field, invention by combination, invention by selection, invention by diversion, invention of new use of known product, and invention by changing elements. Among the above, “invention opening up a whole new field” refers to a totally new technical solution that is unprecedented in the technical history and opens a new era for the development of sicence and technology in a certain period of time, e.g. China's four major inventions - compass, papermaking, typography and gunpowder.