The patentee FAMALINADA applied for an invention patent for "Chair Massager" (hereinafter referred to as “the patent involved”) on July 14, 2008, and was granted on February 25, 2015.
A third party, Shanghai Rongtai, filed the request for invalidation of the patent involved for the reasons such as unclear patent claims, lack of novelty and inventiveness, citing 9 pieces of evidence for evaluation of novelty and inventiveness. In response, the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) held that all claims were not inventive and declared invalidation of the patent involved.
In refusal, FAMALINADA initiated an administrative lawsuit in the Beijing IP Court of the first instance. The Beijing IP Court upheld the invalidation decision made by the SIPO and ruled to dismiss the claims made by FAMALINADA.
FAMALINADA then appealed to the Supreme People's Court against the judgement of the first instance.
Recently, the Supreme People's Court ruled that: Famei Li's appeal request for the patent in question was established, and the State Intellectual Property Office Review Committee and Beijing Intellectual Property Court made the invalidation decision on the ground that the patent in question was invalid and should be invalid. The first-instance judgment is wrong in applying the law and should be revoked. At this point, with the unremitting efforts of Famei and Jijia, Jijia's agent issued the Meili case and won the case!
In the litigation concerning patent right determination, the patent inventiveness is the most controversial issue and the key to determine this is on how to determine whether there is a technical inspiration in the technical prior art. This case is controversial on this too.
In the Supreme Court’s judgement, it’s held that technical inspiration refers to the existence of specific guidance in the prior art, prompting ordinary technical staff in the field to refer to that guidance so as improve the closest prior art when they are in face of an objective technical issue, and thus obtain the invention and realize the technical solution of the invention. The underlying definition of the inspiration that can be learnt by the ordinary technical staff in the filed from the prior art shall be those specific and clear technical means, rather than abstract ideas or general research directions.
In addition, in this judgment, the Supreme Court expressed a negative attitude toward the “judgement in hindsight" that is commonly found in the process of determining patent right. In other words, when judging the inventiveness, after reading the technical solution of this patent, one should not assume that the difference between this patent and the prior art is an improvement that can be easily imagined, instead, it shall be judged with respect to the existence of clear and specific inspiration.