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Patent law essay - Interpretation of claims and infringement

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  1. Introduction.
    1. Common issues of contention in patent infringement claims.
  2. The conflict between competing rights in patent law.
  3. The case of Van der Lely v Bamfords Limited.
  4. The case of Catnic Components Ltd v Hill & Smith.
  5. Lord Diplock's reasoning in the Catnic case.
  6. The issues raised by the Catnic test and what they highlight.
  7. Conclusion.

The intrinsic nature of patents has rendered interpretation of patent claims inherently problematic. The central issue that has exercised the courts is the appropriate method of interpretation, particularly on infringement claims. Bainbridge's observations of the intricacies of patent infringement emphasise the fine balance that interpretation must address: ?Patent infringement is not measured in terms of whether a substantial part has been taken as is infringement of a work of copyright, but there are difficulties where the invention has not been taken in its entirety by an alleged infringer, or where some feature of the invention has been changed ?.

Key Words: Patents, patent infringement, patent interpretation, patent claims, Patents Act 1977, Novelty, Inventive Step, Catnic Test, Obvious, European Patent Convention, EPC.

[...] Merges, Menell & Lemley (2003). Intellectual Property in the New Technological Age. Aspen Michael Pendleton., (2004). Construe Widely and Face Invalidity- Construe Narrowly and Miss Infringment The Dilemma of interpreting Patent Specifications. Electronic Journal of Law Volume 11, No.3 Jonathan Turner., (1999). Purposive Construction: Seven Reasons why Catnic is wrong. European Intellectual Property Review 531. A Rich & W James, (2005). Case Comment Patents: Claim Construction. EIPR. S. Schweitzer (2006). Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy. Oxford University Press. Vaver & Bentley (2004). [...]


[...] A further element of such this compromise would be to scrap the ?skilled person? test and require interpretation of patent claims the eyes of the person who is aware of the requirements of the Protocol[50]?. This would go further towards acknowledging that a patentee may not foresee all possible intended uses of the patent while promoting certainty from the third party's perspective. The UK courts seem to be reluctant to change the Catnic test due to arguments of precedent and legal certainty and it would ?take a brave judge . [...]


[...] It has been propounded that the interpretation of Article 69 requires courts to find a compromise between the traditional German approach of treating claims as guidelines and the British approach which currently presumes that claims define the boundaries of patent protection[48]. Whilst neither approach is without its limitations, it is submitted that a shifting approach towards a compromise would go further in balancing the competing rights in effective patent protection. Part of this compromise should require an initial consideration of the purpose of the claim at the outset. [...]

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