20 June 2014

Patents - No strict rule of presumption of validity

There is no presumption of validity attached to a patent and hence challenge to it in an infringement proceeding cannot be set aside by taking presumptive approach. Observing that in a counterclaim, the six year rule, as held in various judgments, will not help the patentee if the patent is otherwise prima facie found to be invalid, the Delhi High Court has on 30-5-2014 held that this rule (presumption of validity after six years) cannot be applied in all patent matters in general but depends on case to case, otherwise it would amount to rejection of the defence available under Sections 107 and 64 of the Patents Act.

While rejecting the grant of injunction during pendency of the trial, the court on the question of obviousness of the patent, Flat Folded Personal Respiratory Device and process for preparing the same, after studying specified US Patents and an international application, held that it was obvious to a person skilled in the art to apply the solution with corresponding effect to the personal respiratory protection device. The court noting that mere showing of a substantial question of invalidity is sufficient at this stage, observed that the lines of demarcation, shape of the mask and ease of folding, are also available in the defendant’s (Venus Safety & Health Pvt. Ltd.) mask which were available prior to the date of application of the patent by the patentee (3M Innovative Properties Company).

Four steps to be considered by the court in answering the question of obviousness were also laid down by the court while vacating the earlier ex-parte interim injunction order.

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