Top Recent IT and Electronics Cases in China
With the development of computer and electronics technology, patent infringement cases in this field are showing a growing trend. This article collected the typical cases of patent infringement in the field of IT and electronics in the past two years for your reference.
1. Shenzhen Incoming Call Tech Co., Ltd. V. Shenzhen Mobile Life Co., Ltd. (darts ref: darts-963-594-F-zh)
The plaintiff claimed that the defendant infringed two utility model patents of “Absorption type charging device”, “Portable power source rental equipment and clamping device that charges”. The main issue, in this case, was whether the functional features in the claims are equivalent to the corresponding features of the products involved. The court found that the “drive assembly”, “thimble guide structure”, “spring-type mechanical touch switch”, and “sensor” in the claims should be recognized as functional features. The content of the features should be determined by the combination of the specific embodiment stated in the specification and drawings and its equivalent embodiment. The above-mentioned technical features of the claims and the technical features of the involved products realized basically the same functions and achieved basically the same results by basically the same means, and this technical replacement was easily thought of by the skilled in the art without any creative work. Therefore, the above technical features of the claims were equivalent to the corresponding technical features of the alleged infringement product.
Both of “Several Provisions of the Supreme People’s Court on Issues concerning the Application of Law in the Trial of Patent Dispute Cases” and “Interpretations of the Supreme People’s Court on Issues Concerning the Application of Law in the Trial of Patent Infringement Dispute Cases (II) ” stipulate the equivalence. There are important differences between them, including the following two aspects: First, the applicable object and the contrast basis are different. The “Provisions” is more broadly applicable and involve technical features other than “functional features”. The basis of comparison is the technical features themselves recited in the claims. The object of the application of “Interpretation (II)” is “functional features “. The basis of comparison is the “indispensable technical features” of the functions or effects of functional features described in the specification and the drawings. Second, the standards are different. With regard to the “equivalent features” of the “Provisions”, it is necessary to realize basically the same functions and achieve basically the same results by basically the same means with which an ordinary skill in the art is able to associate without any creative activity when the alleged infringing act occurs. The “equivalent to functional features…” of “Interpretation (II)” should satisfy “realize the same functions and achieve the same results by basically the same means with which an ordinary skill in the art is able to associate without any creative activity when the alleged infringing act occurs”, among which functions and effects must be the same, and its standard is more stringent.
Therefore, in the patent infringement case, the judgment steps for the equivalent are: firstly, divide the technical feature, and then judge the technical feature as a functional feature or not. If it is a functional technical feature, the “Interpretation (II)” is applicable to determine whether the functional feature is equivalent to the feature of the technical solution involved; if it is not a functional technical feature, the “Provisions” is used to determine whether the technical features are equivalent to the technical features of the involved technical solutions.
2、Koninklijke Kpn N.V. V. Yulong Computer Telecommunication Scientific(Shenzhen) Co., Ltd. （darts ref：darts-341-915-F-zh）
KPN had filed lawsuits against a number of mobile phone companies on the grounds that these mobile phone companies infringed its patent ” Method and device for transforming a series of data packets by means of data compression “, in which claim 23 of the involved patent had been absorbed into the 3GPP 51.010-1 standard. The reason why the plaintiff believed that the alleged infringing product fell within the scope of protection of the involved patent was based on the following logic: the patent claims were consistent with the involved standard, the standard had been implemented in China. The alleged infringement product must adopt this standard as the product that had been listed in China. Although the compression function in the standard was optional, the alleged infringing product had compression function after testing. According to this, the alleged infringing product fell within the scope of protection of the patent claim 23. The court firstly compared the consistency of claim 23 with the involved standard. There were many differences between them. Therefore, even if the alleged infringing mobile phone did adopt the standard and had compression function, it could not be determined that the act of the infringement infringed the plaintiff’s patent.
SEP litigation has been a hot topic in communications, where technology and standards are highly integrated. Due to the abstract nature of technology, patent infringement lawsuits in the communications field conceal infringements and make it difficult to obtain evidence. Therefore, when a patent involves a standard, the patentee often introduces the standard as an intermediate role, forming a triangular relationship between the patent, the standard, and the product to avoid a direct comparison between the patent and the involved product. Therefore, in patent disputes involving Standard Essential Patents, there are three relationships: the “consistency” relationship A between standard and patent, the “consistency” relationship B between product and standard, and the “consistency” relationship C between patent and product. For infringers, in response to SEP litigation, based on the above relationship, as long as any relationship A, B can be broken, relationship C will naturally no longer be established. In this case, the court decided that the product did not infringe the patent right through the consistency of patent and standard.
3、Feitian Technologies Co., Ltd. V. Beijing Infosec Century Technology Co., Ltd.（darts ref：darts-890-178-F-zh）
The plaintiff claimed that the USB Key produced by the defendant infringed its invention patent “Security control methods for date transmission process of software protection device and device thereof”. The defendant believed that the involved product in the case was an identity authentication product, which protected the transaction security and did not protect the copyright of the software. The involved product was not a “software protection device.” In this regard, the court considered that claim 1 clearly states that the subject of protection of claim 1 was ” software protection device “. The involved product, in this case, was U-Shield product that the bank provided to the customer. It was used to encrypt transaction-related information, send the processed information to the bank, compare it to the bank’s processing results, and verify the user’s legitimacy. Data did not participate in client software and was not intended to protect client programs installed on the computer. Therefore, the involved product in the case is not a software protection device. The court did not support the plaintiff’s grounds for the prosecution that the technical solution for the involved product had fallen within the scope of protection of the patent claim 1.
This case relates to the effect of the subject name of the claim on the exercise of the patent right. Article 5 of the “Interpretations of the Supreme People’s Court on Issues Concerning the Application of Law in the Trial of Patent Infringement Dispute Cases (II) ” states that” When a people’s court determines the scope of protection of a patent right, the technical features recorded in the preamble and characterization of an independent claim, and the reference or definition of a subordinate claim shall all have the definitive roles.” In this case, the patent subject name was a component of the preamble, and the technical features defined by the subject name should be included in the scope of protection of the patent claim.
4、Beijing Sogou Information Service Co.,Ltd. V. Baidu Online Network Technology(Beijing) Co., Ltd.（darts ref：darts-193-645-E-zh）
Baidu Company was suspected of infringing Sogou’s Chinese input method invention patent. The core of the patent was to compare the user word frequency with a predetermined threshold. If the corresponding user word frequency of a certain word was greater than or equal to a predetermined threshold, the word was determined to be a personalized word. Baidu stated that the input method did not compare the user word frequency with the threshold, but used a heap sorting algorithm to sort the word candidate frequency to determine the first item in the candidate word, thereby determining the user’s personality word. According to the trial presentation, when a specific candidate word of the input character was confirmed on the screen a plurality of times, the candidate word was displayed as a preference when the character was input next time. So far, Sogou had proved that the input method involved in the case contains the technical features in the claims through demonstration examples and demonstration results. At this point, Baidu believed that the input method involved in the case was to determine the priming items in the candidate words by sorting the word frequency. Baidu should bear the burden of proof for this opinion. In the end, the court confirmed that Baidu Company constituted infringement.
As is known to all, in software patent infringement cases, although the effect of the patent is the same or similar to the effect of the technical solution involved, it does not mean that they use the same technical means. But how to prove their technical means are the same is quite difficult. In order to protect the interests of the patentee, when the patentee has fulfilled the reasonable burden of proof, the burden of proof has been transferred. Article 90 of the “Interpretation of the Supreme People’s Court on the Application of the Civil Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China” states that “A party shall provide evidence to prove the facts on which his claims are based or to repudiate the facts on which the claims of the opposing party are based, unless it is otherwise prescribed by any law. Where a party fails to provide evidence or the evidence provided is insufficient to support his claims before a judgment is entered, the party bearing the burden of proof shall take the adverse consequences”. In this case, the principle is applied to transfer the evidence liability until the distribution of the burden of proof. When the plaintiff proves that the infringed product has all the technical features of the involved patent in the case at least in phenomena, and illustrates the high possibility of implementing the technical features of the involved patent through operation demonstration, it can be considered that the plaintiff has fulfilled the preliminary burden of proof. When the burden of proof is transferred to Baidu, it fails to provide sufficient evidence to refute the plaintiff to prove that the implementation of the alleged infringing technical solution is different from the technical features of the claim.
5、Aten International Co., Ltd. V. Beijing Hardlink Science & Technology Co.,Ltd.（darts ref：darts-885-630-F-zh）
The plaintiff claimed that the defendant infringed on its invention patent ” Intelligent type switcher for computers and system thereof “, The court of the first instance determined that the involved product fell within the scope of protection of the claim. The defendant appealed that the control chip was not directly connected to the computer connection port, and the “connection” defined by the claims was neither identical nor equivalent. The court of second instance held that although the “connection” of the claim was a limitation of the relationship between “multiple computer ports” and “control devices”, it was a functional feature in form. However, in the process of determining the functional features, if a person skilled in the art could directly and unambiguously determine a specific implementation manner to achieve the above-mentioned functions or effects, only by reading the claims, it could not be regarded as a functional feature. As described above, in the field of computers, those skilled in the art could clearly understand that the “connection” of the computer connection port and the control device in the claims included both information transmission realized by physical direct connection and another information transmission that is not realized by direct connection in the physical sense, as long as data can be transmitted between them. In the alleged infringing product, even if the computer connection port was connected to the control chip through the console simulator chip, the console simulator chip played the role of forwarding commands and data of keyboard and mouse as well as screen data. Therefore, there was a connection relationship between the control chip and the computer connection port, which was equivalent to the corresponding technical features of the claim.
This case relates to the determination of functional features. Although a technical feature appears to be a functional feature in the form, it is necessary to determine whether the technical content can be directly and unambiguously determined from the claim at the perspective of those skilled in the art. A similar typical case is Nokia v. Shanghai Huaqin, in which the involved patent claim had the term “configured to”. Both courts of first instance and second instance held that “configured to” should be understood as having the function/effect of performing a certain step. Therefore, it was incorrectly determined as a functional feature.