Patentee wins through – 24 September 2014
Last year the Australian Keg Company successfully enforced its innovation patent against N&E Bowder in the Federal Court. N&E Bowder appealed that decision to the Full Federal Court and that Court has also ruled in Australian Keg’s favour.
The patent is directed to a simple mechanical invention – animal feed storage bins. Here is a link to Australian Keg’s patent and the images below show N&E Bowder’s bin.
The coverage of a patent is defined by its claims. The interpretation of the word ‘through’ in Australian Keg’s main claim was a key issue in the appeal. Australian Keg’s patent covered bins including a ‘base adapted to provide access to [an] outlet through [an] exterior side wall of the base’ whereas the wall in N&E Bowder’s bin has a V-shaped aperture through which the outlet is accessed.
The Full Federal Court concluded that N&E Bowder’s bin did include a base adapted to provide access to an outlet through an exterior side wall of the base. The Court did not accept ‘that access “through” the wall must occur through an aperture and that the aperture must be enclosed, such as occurs in a tunnel or a hole’.
The decision illustrates that:
- claim wording is important – patents cover more than the specific version of the invention that they describe;
- clarity is important – whilst Australian Keg won the day, in the glare of hindsight, if their patent was worded more clearly so there was nothing to argue about, they may not have had to go to Court at all;
- simple mechanical inventions can form the basis of valuable patent protection.