Amendments of the Patent Court Act approved by both chambers of the parliament

I have reported earlier about the forthcoming organisational changes at the FPC on this Blog here.

After the National Council, the Council of States has also approved the amendments to the Patent Court Act on February 28, 2018, without any votes to the contrary.

Accordingly, the debate was not controversial:

  1. Robert Cramer (member of the Council of States)

A verbatim transcript is also availabe here (FR only).

  1. Simonetta Sommaruga (Federal Councillor):

A verbatim transcript is also availabe here (DE only).

Now, what is next?

Once officially published, the amendment to the Patent Court Act might be challenged with an optional referendum (Art. 141 FC) within 100 days, but this is highly unlikely. Thus, one may expect the changes to be enacted in mid 2018.

UPDATE 15 March 2018:

The final parliamentary vote on this matter will be on 16 March 2018. The drafting committee has published the final version of the draft bill earlier today; see here.

UPDATE 03 April 2018:

The official publication was made on 27 March 2018, so the optional referendum is possible until 05 July 2018. Without a referendum, the amendments will enter into force on 01 August 2018.

Reported by Martin WILMING

Header image courtesy of Parlamentsdienste, 3003 Bern

AMENDMENTS TO THE PATENT COURT ACT

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The Patent Court that tweets

Be my Valentine

The Swiss Federal Patent Court now has an official Twitter account and published its first tweet on Feb 14, i.e. Valentine’s day. This surely is an account to follow. Much appreciated!

The tweet was about the forthcoming hearing in the matter Guenat SA Watches Valgine ./.  Swiss Finest SA that will take place on March 13, 2018 at the Hôtel de Ville de Neuchâtel. Please find some further information about this litigation on this Blog here.

Reported by Martin WILMING

Shutters down in Liechtenstein

Princely Courts in Vaduz (Asurnipal under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license)

I have reported about the decision 4A_18/2017 of the Swiss Supreme Court (Utz ./. Hilti) on this Blog here.  It is an interesting decision for various reasons, but the factual setup is just not fully clear from the Supreme Court decision itself. I thus tried to obtain the underlying decision of the Princely High Court of the Principality of Liechtenstein, to gain further insight. I felt this should not be an issue nowadays.

Oh, how mistaken I was! The Princely High Court just put the shutters down.

Coats of Arms (LI)
Coats of Arms (LI)

I was informed that a formal request of file inspection would be required to obtain a copy of the decision. Practically, this will just not work: The parties involved need to consent (how would you ever get consent from six parties which are anonymised in the Supreme Court decision?), or one would have to have a legal interest (which obviously does not apply).

I could not even obtain an anonymised version of the decision (I did not expect more than that anyway):

Sending the anonymised decision to a foreign country is out of the question.

Eh? The ‘foreign country’ is the seat of the competent second instance court in this matter.

As a last resort, I suggested that the decision be published ex officio in the database gerichtsentscheide.li. However, only ‘selected’ decisions are included in this database. For some reason this decision is apparently not worth being selected.

Frankly, I have difficulties to accept that this is still happening nowadays. Just for the sake of comparison, note what the Swiss Supreme Court has decided in a recent case in relation to the public access to judicial decisions.

Reported by Martin WILMING

(Header image by Asurnipal under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license)

A VIEW OF THE SWISS SUPREME COURT

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Administrative Board of Judges for the term of 2018-2023

As previously reported on this Blog here and here, the Federal Assembly had elected Mark Schweizer as new President and re-elected Tobias Bremi as second permanent judge.

Frank Schnyder has also been re-elected as Vice President at the November 15, 2017 plenary assembly of the FPC.

Thus, the Administrative Board of Judges for the term of office of 2018-2023 is:

President Mark Schweizer
Vice-President Frank Schnyder
Second permanent judge Tobias Bremi

Reported by Martin WILMING

OFFICIAL COMMUNICATION

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Three judges with a background in chemistry elected

As noted earlier on this Blog here, elections of the additional judges with a background in chemistry by the Federal Assembly took place earlier today. Unsurprisingly, all judges proposed by the Judicial Commission have been elected.

Congratulations to Michael Kaufmann, Frank Schager and Diego Vergani, and all the best of luck in handling of their cases!

Reported by Martin WILMING

THE SDA COMMUNICATION

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Three additional chemists proposed for election as judges

A report of the Judicial Commission on the preparatory work for the election of three additional non-permanent judges with a background in chemistry has been published yesterday.

The following candidates are proposed for election:

  1. KAUFMANN Michael
  2. SCHAGER Frank
  3. VERGANI Diego

Election by the Federal Assembly is scheduled for 13 December 2017.

Reported by Martin WILMING

THE JUDICIAL COMMISSION’S REPORT

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states area phone code

Time is of the essence

I have reported earlier on this Blog here about the time limits and possible  extensions that parties should expect in proceedings at the FPC, subject to exceptions as set forth in Art. 7 of the Guidelines on Proceedings.

This list has now been officially published on the FPC’s website (see link at the bottom of the page).

Reported by Martin WILMING

CHART OF TIME LIMITS

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Ethical Coffee Company ./. Nestlé et al.

ECC’s complaint against Nestlé et al. on the basis of CH 701 971 B1 had not been successful; see this Blog here for details on the first instance judgment of the FPC and the Supreme Court decision here.

The claim at stake inter alia required that

[…] said cage (5) is arranged in such a way as to deform, at least partially, any capsule (1), made of a material that can be deformed upon contact with hot water, which is placed in the cage (5) so that the capsule (1) is retained in the cage (5) following its contact with hot water.

An interesting aspect in this case was the meaning of the term ‘any capsule.’ The FPC held that the attacked embodiments evidently did not retain toute capsule’ / ‘any capsule’. The Supreme Court likewise held that there is apparently no specific meaning of the term ‘any capsule’ in the specific technology, and that the literal meaning was perfectly clear. Since it had been beyond dispute that at least some capsules were not retained, the feature was held to be not fulfilled.

The Regional Court Dusseldorf now came to a different conclusion in its assessment of the parallel EP 2 312 978 B1; see 4b O 9/16. Note that the Swiss judgments had been brought to the attention of the Dusseldorf court; see ¶75. The Dusseldorf court holds that such an interpretation would essentially make the claim meaningless. The skilled person would not understand the claim in this way, in particular since none of the embodiments shown in the patent would be covered by that definition.

Der Fachmann erkennt, dass der Begriff nicht in dem Sinne zu verstehen sein kann, dass damit 100 % aller Kapseln gemeint sind, mit denen in der betreffenden Vorrichtung ein Getränk zubereitet werden kann. […]  Ausreichend ist […], dass der Käfig in Bezug auf eine vorgegebene Kapselform und -größe so ausgestaltet ist, dass er diese Kapseln […] zumindest teilweise verformen und festhalten kann. Bei den Kapseln der vorgegebenen Größe und Form, auf die die Abmessungen des Käfigs patentgemäß abgestimmt werden, handelt es sich um ‘jede Kapsel’ […].

Bei einem anderslautenden Verständnis, wie es das Schweizer Bundesgericht offenbar seiner Auslegung zugrunde legt […] und wonach ‘jede Kapsel’ im Sinne von 100 % aller Kapseln, mit denen in der Vorrichtung ein Getränk zubereitet werden kann, zu verstehen ist, liefe der Patentanspruch zudem im Wesentlichen leer. […]  In seinem Bestreben, dem Patent einen sinnvollen Gehalt zu entnehmen, wird der Fachmann daher nicht auf die beschriebene Sichtweise zurückgreifen.  Überdies würde das dargestellte Verständnis dazu führen, dass keines der Ausführungsbeispiele mehr vom Gegenstand des Patents erfasst wäre. […] Eine Auslegung des Patentanspruchs, die zur Folge hätte, dass keines der in der Patentschrift geschilderten Ausführungsbeispiele vom Gegenstand des Patents erfasst würde, kommt allerdings nur dann in Betracht, wenn andere Auslegungsmöglichkeiten, die zumindest zur Einbeziehung eines Teils der Ausführungsbeispiele führen, zwingend ausscheiden oder wenn sich aus dem Patentanspruch hinreichend deutliche Anhaltspunkte dafür entnehmen lassen, dass tatsächlich etwas beansprucht wird, das so weitgehend von der Beschreibung abweicht […]. Angesichts des bereits dargestellten widerspruchsfreien und sinnvollen Verständnisses des Merkmals, das dem Fachmann vorliegend zur Verfügung steht, wird er auf eben jenes zurückgreifen.

It is always interesting to see how the various courts address the same question differently. In this case, the Swiss courts apparently took a rather strict approach with a strong focus on the wording of the claim, while the Regional Court Dusseldorf took a more liberal approach of claim construction.

The floor is yours for comments …

Reported by Martin WILMING

THE LG D’DORF DECISION 

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THE PATENT IN SUIT

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Judges elected!

As noted earlier on this Blog here, elections of judges by the Federal Assembly took place today.

Judges elected!

Unsurprisingly, all judges proposed by the Judicial Commission have been elected for the new term 2018-2023:

The 2nd ordinary judge:

BREMI Tobias; first elected 16 June 2010, re-elected now with 207/218 votes

Re-elected non-permanent judges with a background in technology:

  1. CLERC Natalia, first elected 16 June 2010; re-elected now with 199/207 votes
  2. DUX Roland, first elected 28 September 2011; re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  3. GERVASIO Giovanni, first elected 16 June 2010; re-elected now with 199/207 votes
  4. HERREN Barbara, first elected 28 September 2011; re-elected now with 199/207 votes
  5. KÖPF Alfred; first elected 16 June 2010,  re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  6. MÜLLER Christoph; first elected 16 June 2010, re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  7. MÜLLER Markus A.; first elected 16 June 2010, re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  8. RIGLING Peter D.; first elected 16 June 2010, re-elected now with 196/207 votes
  9. ROLAND André; first elected 16 June 2010, re-elected now with 196/207 votes
  10. ROSHARDT Werner; first elected 16 June 2010, re-elected now with 196/207 votes
  11. RÜEDI Regula; first elected 28 September 2011, re-elected now with 199/207 votes
  12. RÜFENACHT Philipp; first elected 16 June 2010, re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  13. SAAM Christophe; first elected 16 June 2010, re-elected now with 196/207 votes
  14. SCHÖLLHORN SAVARY Andreas; first elected 17 June 2015, re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  15. SCHNYDER Frank; first elected 16 June 2010, re-elected now with 196/207 votes
  16. SPERRLE Martin; first elected 17 June 2015, re-elected now with 196/207 votes
  17. SPILLMANN Hannes; first elected 17 June 2015, re-elected now with 196/207 votes
  18. STOCKER Kurt; first elected 16 June 2010, re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  19. SUTTER Kurt; first elected 16 June 2010, re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  20. VOGEL Daniel; first elected 16 June 2010, re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  21. von BALLMOOS Prisca; first elected 28 September 2011, re-elected now with 196/207 votes
  22. WERNER André; first elected 16 June 2010, re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  23. ZARDI Marco; first elected 16 June 2010, re-elected now with 197/207 votes

Re-elected non-permanent judges with a background in law (all elected 16 June 2010 for the first time):

  1. ALDER Daniel; re-elected now with 196/207 votes
  2. DUCOR Philippe; re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  3. GASSER Christoph; re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  4. HILTI Christian; re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  5. HOLZER Simon; re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  6. KRAUS Daniel; re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  7. LEGLER Thomas; re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  8. RENTSCH Rudolf A.; re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  9. SCHLOSSER Ralph; re-elected now with 197/207 votes
  10. WILLI Christoph; re-elected now with 197/207 votes

Five judges were elected for the first time (1-3 with a background in law, 4-5 with a background in technology):

  1. DORIGO SLONGO Lara; elected now with 208/211 votes
  2. HESS Andri; elected now with 209/211 votes
  3. KOHLER Stefan; elected now with 198/211 votes
  4. PARRINI Lorenzo; elected now with 208/211 votes
  5. STÖRZBACH Michael Andreas; elected now with 210/211 votes

Congratulations to all elected judges, and all the best of luck in handling of their cases!

What remains is the election of two further non-permanent judges with a background in chemistry; see this Blog here. Stay tuned.

Reported by Martin WILMING

THE PROVISIONAL OFFICIAL BULLETIN

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The Judicial Commission’s complete proposal for election of judges

The Judicial Commission has published a report on its preparatory work for the election of judges for the FPC yesterday. Elections are scheduled for 27 September 2017. The following 34 judges are available and recommended by the Judicial Commission for re-election:

  • BREMI Tobias, 2nd ordinary judge, elected 16 June 2010

Non-permanent judges with a background in technology:

  1. CLERC Natalia, elected 16 June 2010
  2. DUX Roland, elected 28 September 2011
  3. GERVASIO Giovanni, elected 16 June 2010
  4. HERREN Barbara, elected 28 September 2011
  5. KÖPF Alfred, elected 16 June 2010
  6. MÜLLER Christoph, elected 16 June 2010
  7. MÜLLER Markus A., elected 16 June 2010
  8. RIGLING Peter D., elected 16 June 2010
  9. ROLAND André, elected 16 June 2010
  10. ROSHARDT Werner, elected 16 June 2010
  11. RÜEDI Regula, elected 28 September 2011
  12. RÜFENACHT Philipp, elected 16 June 2010
  13. SAAM Christophe, elected 16 June 2010
  14. SCHÖLLHORN SAVARY Andreas, elected 17 June 2015
  15. SCHNYDER Frank, elected 16 June 2010
  16. SPERRLE Martin, elected 17 June 2015
  17. SPILLMANN Hannes, elected 17 June 2015
  18. STOCKER Kurt, elected 16 June 2010
  19. SUTTER Kurt, elected 16 June 2010
  20. VOGEL Daniel, elected 16 June 2010
  21. von BALLMOOS Prisca, elected 28 September 2011
  22. WERNER André, elected 16 June 2010
  23. ZARDI Marco, elected 16 June 2010

Four technical judges are not available for re-election, i.e.

  • Timothy HOLMAN
  • Emanuel JELSCH
  • Hanny KJELLSA-BERGER
  • Herbert LAEDERACH

The following non-permanent judges with a background in law are recommended for re-election (all elected 16 June 2010 for the first time):

  1. ALDER Daniel
  2. DUCOR Philippe
  3. GASSER Christoph
  4. HILTI Christian
  5. HOLZER Simon
  6. KRAUS Daniel
  7. LEGLER Thomas
  8. RENTSCH Rudolf A.
  9. SCHLOSSER Ralph
  10. WILLI Christoph

Only Mark SCHWEIZER is missing on this list of non-permanent judges with a background in law: He is president-elect of the Federal Patent Court; see this Blog here.

Thus, five positions of non-permanent judges (one in law and four in technology) had to be staffed anyway. But the Judicial Commission now proposes for election three non-permanent judges with a background in law, two with a background in technology (see this Blog here) and is seeking two additional non-permanent judges with a background in chemistry to be elected at a later stage (see this Blog here). The pool of judges will thus get bigger. Why is that?

Well, the number of non-permanent judges is not fixed by law. Art. 8(2) PatCA only requires the following:

The Federal Patent Court is composed of two permanent judges and a sufficient number of non-permanent judges. The majority of non-permanent judges must possess technical training.

The Judicial Commission aims to make sure that the FPC has sufficient personnel to staff its benches of judges. Mark SCHWEIZER will need to step back for reasons of potential conflicts of interests for some time anyway, and two of the three proposed non-permanent judges with a background in law are working for law firms which are currently involved in a lot of pending cases before the FPC, either. Proposing three non-permanent judges with a background in law is thus to safeguard a ‘sufficient number of non-permanent judges’.

Reported by Martin WILMING

THE JUDICIAL COMMISSION’S REPORT

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Proposed non-permanent judges

As noted earlier on this Blog here, the Judicial Committee has recently been seeking

  • one non-permanent judge with a background in law; and
  • four non-permanent judges with a background in chemistry or mechanical engineering.

A press release has been published by the Judicial Committee yesterday, setting out the proposal to the parliament for election on 27 September 2017.

Candidates for the position(s) as non-permanent judge(s) with a background in law are:

It remains to be seen whether all three candidates will be elected, or just one of them according to the initial job posting.

As per today, the candidates for the positions as non-permanent judges with a background in technology are:

The Judicial Committee is currently still seeking two further non-permanent judges with a background in chemistry; see this Blog here.

Reported by Martin WILMING

PRESS RELEASE

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Chemists wanted!

Hurry up, you patent attorneys with a background in chemistry out there:

The Judicial Committee of the Swiss Federal Assembly is recruiting a further two non-permanent judges with a technical background in chemistry for the FPC. Applications are to be submitted by no later than September 25, 2017.

Please revert to the job ad (online) (DE/FR/IT) or below (DE) for further information.

ZWEI NEBENAMTLICHE RICHTER/INNEN MIT CHEMIE-AUSBILDUNG AM BUNDESPATENTGERICHT

Das Bundespatentgericht ist das Spezialgericht des Bundes für Streitigkeiten über Patente. Es hat seinen Sitz in St. Gallen. Es setzt sich aus Richterinnen und Richtern mit juristischer sowie Richterinnen und Richtern mit technischer Ausbildung zusammen.

Im Hinblick auf die Gesamterneuerung des Bundespatentgerichtes schreibt die Gerichtskommission der Vereinigten Bundesversammlung zwei Stellen von nebenamtlichen Richterinnen beziehungsweise Richtern mit Chemie-Ausbildung aus.

Sie verfügen über ein abgeschlossenes Hochschulstudium in Chemie. Sie weisen eine mehrjährige Berufserfahrung als Patentanwältin beziehungsweise Patentanwalt auf, namentlich im Pharma-Bereich. Sie werden vom Gericht fallweise beigezogen und sind deshalb zeitlich flexibel.

Aufgrund der spezifischen Aufgaben des Gerichts sind sehr gute Deutsch-, Französisch- und Englischkenntnisse in Wort und Schrift Voraussetzung.

Bewerberinnen und Bewerber müssen die Schweizer Staatsbürgerschaft innehaben.

Gemäss Artikel 9 Absatz 4 des Patentgerichtsgesetzes können bei der Vorbereitung der Wahl das Eidgenössische Institut für Geistiges Eigentum sowie die im Patentwesen tätigen Fachorganisationen und interessierten Kreise angehört werden.

Die Vereinigte Bundesversammlung wird die Wahl in der Wintersession 2017 vornehmen.

Amtsantritt: 1. Januar 2018.

Informationen zum Bundespatentgericht finden Sie im Internet unter http://www.patentgericht.ch/

Ihre Bewerbung mit Lebenslauf, Kopien von Diplomen und Arbeitszeugnissen, Angabe von Referenzpersonen (darunter mindestens zwei berufliche Referenzen), Straf- und Betreibungsregisterauszug sowie Passfoto richten Sie bitte bis zum 25. September 2017 an die Gerichtskommission der Vereinigten Bundesversammlung.

Adresse: Sekretariat der Gerichtskommission, Parlamentsgebäude, 3003 Bern.

Auskünfte:
Ständerat Roland Eberle, Präsident der Gerichtskommission, Tel.: 079 352 27 63
Anne Dieu, Sekretärin der Gerichtskommission, Tel.: 058 322 94 26

Reported by Martin WILMING