variations

米国での審査における実施可能性、新規性、非自明性の判断基準について

米国での審査通知への回答書において米国代理人が米国審査基準(MPEP)に参照して実施可能性・新規性・非自明性の法律的基準について述べた説明で、原則的な部分を理解する上で参考になるものがありましたので、多少補足を加えた上で、以下に紹介します。参考までに、英語と日本語訳文の両方を併記します。

Legal Standard for Enablement(実施可能性の法律的基準について)

The Federal Circuit has repeatedly held that "the specification must teach those skilled in the art how to make and use the full scope of the claimed invention without 'undue experimentation'." In re Wright, 999 F.2d 1557, 1561, 27 USPQ2d 1510, 1513 (Fed. Cir. 1993).(連邦巡回裁判所はたびたび、以下の趣旨の判断を示してきた:「明細書は、当業者が『過度な実験』を行なうことなく本発明の全範囲を実現して使用するための方法を教示しなければならない」)

Nevertheless, not everything necessary to practice the invention need be disclosed. In fact, what is well-known is best omitted. In re Buchner, 929 F.2d 660, 661, 18 USPQ2d 1331, 1332 (Fed. Cir. 1991).(しかし、発明の実施に必要な全てを開示する必要はない。実際、周知のものは省略しても構わない。)

All that is necessary is that one skilled in the art be able to practice the claimed invention, given the level of knowledge and skill in the art. Further the scope of enablement must only bear a "reasonable correlation" to the scope of the claims. See, e.g., In re Fisher, 427 F.2d 833, 839, 166 USPQ 18, 24 (CCPA 1970).(必要なことは、当業界の知識と技術の水準に鑑みて、クレームされた発明を当業者が実施できるように記載されていることだけである。)

As concerns the breadth of a claim relevant to enablement, the only relevant concern should be whether the scope of enablement provided to one skilled in the art by the disclosure is commensurate with the scope of protection sought by the claims. In re Moore, 439 F.2d 1232, 1236, 169 USPQ 236, 239 (CCPA 1971).(実施可能性との関連におけるクレームの広さについては、明細書の開示により当業者に提供された実施可能性と、クレームが要求する保護の範囲とが一致していさえすればよい。) How a teaching is set forth, by specific example or broad terminology, is not important. In re Marzocchi, 439 F.2d 220, 223-24 169 USPQ 367, 370 (CCPA 1971).(教示の記載の仕方については、どのように記載されていても構わず、具体的実施態様による記載でもよいし、広い用語による記載でもよい。)

Legal Standard for Determining Anticipation(新規性判断の法律的基準について)

"A claim is anticipated only if each and every element as set forth in the claim is found, either expressly or inherently described, in a single prior art reference." Verdegaal Bros. v. Union Oil Co. of California, 814 F.2d 628, 631, 2 USPQ2d 1051, 1053 (Fed. Cir. 1987).(クレームに記載される全ての要素が明示的または潜在的に単一の先行技術文献に記載されている場合にのみ、クレームの新規性が欠如する。)

"When a claim covers several structures or compositions, either generically or as alternatives, the claim is deemed anticipated if any of the structures or compositions within the scope of the claim is known in the prior art." Brown v. 3M, 265 F.3d 1349, 1351, 60 USPQ2d 1375, 1376 (Fed. Cir. 2001) (クレームが複数の構造や組成物を含む場合には、複数の構造または複数の組成物のいずれか1でも先行技術文献に記載されているならば、クレームの新規性が欠如する。)

"The identical invention must be shown in as complete detail as is contained in the ... claim." Richardson v. Suzuki Motor Co., 868 F.2d 1226, 1236, 9 USPQ2d 1913, 1920 (Fed. Cir. 1989).(クレームされるものと詳細まで完全に一致する発明が示されていることが必要である)

The elements must be arranged as required by the claim, but this is not an ipsissimis verbis test, i.e., identity of terminology is not required. In re Bond, 910 F.2d 831, 15 USPQ2d 1566 (Fed. Cir. 1990).(クレームが要求する通りに要素が配置されていることが必要であるが、用語が同一である必要はない。)

Legal Standard for Prima Facie Obviousness (一応の自明性の判断の法律的基準について)

MPEP § 2141 sets forth the guidelines in determining obviousness. First, the Examiner has to take into account the factual inquiries set forth in Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1, 17, 148 USPQ 459 (1966), which has provided the controlling framework for an obviousness analysis.(MPEP § 2141には、自明性を判断するガイドラインが示されている。審査官は、まず、グラハム事件で採用された事実認定基準(いわゆる、Grahamテスト)を考慮しなければならない。) The four Graham factors are(4つのGrahamテストは以下の通りである):

(a) determining the scope and contents of the prior art(先行技術の範囲と内容を決定すること);

(b) ascertaining the differences between the prior art and the claims in issue(先行技術と当該クレームとの差を明確にすること);

(c) resolving the level of ordinary skill in the pertinent art(当業者の技術水準を確定すること); and

(d) evaluating any evidence of secondary considerations(二次的考慮事項の証拠を評価すること). Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1, 17, 148 USPQ 459, 467 (1966).

Second, the Examiner has to provide some rationale for determining obviousness.(次に審査官は、自明性を支持するための何らかの論理付けを提示することが必要である。) MPEP § 2143 sets forth some rationales that were established in the recent decision of KSR International Co. v Teleflex Inc., 82 USPQ2d 1385 (U.S. 2007)(MPEP § 2143には、KSR事件で確立された論理付けが示されている。). Exemplary rationales that may support a conclusion of obviousness include(自明性を支持するための典型的な論理付けは以下の通りである。):

(a) combining prior art elements according to known methods to yield predictable results(先行技術の要素を公知の方法で組み合わせて予想可能な結果を得ること);

(b) simple substitution of one known element for another to obtain predictable results(ある公知の要素を他の要素で単純に置換して予想可能な結果を得ること);

(c) use of known technique to improve similar devices (methods, or products) in the same way(公知技術を用いて類似の装置(方法や製品)を同様に改善すること);

(d) applying a known technique to a known device (method, or product) ready for improvement to yield predictable results(改善可能な状態にある公知の装置(方法や製品)に公知技術を適用して予想可能な結果を得ること);

(e) "obvious to try" - choosing from a finite number of identified, predictable solutions, with a reasonable expectation of success(「試みることが自明」-成功するという合理的な期待を持って、特定された予測可能な有限個の解決方法から選択すること);

(f) known work in one field of endeavor may prompt variations of it for use in either the same field or a different one based on design incentives or other market forces if the variations are predictable to one of ordinary skill in the art(ある技術分野において公知のものは、設計上の動機やその他の市場の力に基づいて、同じ技術分野や異なる技術分野で使用するためのバリエーションが当業者によって予測可能であれば、そのようなバリエーションを促すかもしれない。); and

(g) some teaching, suggestion, or motivation in the prior art that would have led one of ordinary skill to modify the prior art reference or to combine prior art reference teachings to arrive at the claimed invention.(先行技術文献を改変したり先行技術文献の教示を組み合わせてクレームされた発明に到達するように当業者を導いたであろう、先行技術における教示、示唆または動機。)

As the MPEP directs, all claim limitations must be considered in view of the cited prior art in order to establish a prima facie case of obviousness. See MPEP § 2143.03.(MPEPが示すように、一応の自明性を確立するためには、引用例に鑑みてクレームの全ての限定事項を考慮する必要がある。)

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Design Registration

Q1. If a design application is to be filed in Japan claiming Convention Priority based on a non-Japanese application, is the priority period one year as in patent applications? 

A1.  No. For filing design applications in Japan claiming Convention priority, the priority period is for six (6) months, instead of one year, from the filing of the priority application.  Even if you have a design "patent" application filed at the USPTO, the priority period is 6 months for filing a Japanese patent application with a valid priority claim based on the degisn "patent" application filed in the US.  

You also have to be careful when filing a patent application in Japan claiming priority from both a patent application and a design application.  That is, for example, if you filed in your country a patent application on May 1, 2012 and a design application on October 30, 2012 and are now considering filing a patent application on May 1, 2013 in Japan claiming priority from both of the above-mentioned patent application and design application filed in your country, this date “May 1, 2013” is within one-year priority period based on the patent application but is after the expiration of six-month priority period (October 30, 2012 + 6 months = April 40, 2013) based on the design application.  Therefore, the priority claim based on the design application is not valid.  

Q2. I am planning to file a design patent application in Japan claiming priority from a US design patent application.  What are the major differences in practice between the United States and Japan that require particular attention?

A2.  Firstly, unlike the “design patent” in the United States which is one type of patents and is basically dealt with under the patent law, Japan has a design law separate from a patent law. 

Therefore, in Japan, an application for registration of a design is referred to as “design application”, not “design patent application” as in the United States.  

More importantly, this difference in legal system leads to some significant differences in design registration practice between the US and Japan representative examples of which are enumerated below.

Difference 1)  “Single design per application” system in Japan

It is understood that the US system allows an applicant to pursue two or more designs (embodiments) of a single inventive concept in a single design patent application.  This, however, is not the case in Japan.  According to the Japanese practice, each design application may include only a single design of single shape.

Therefore, in Japan, when a single priority application includes multiple designs, it is necessary to either:

-  file separate design applications with respect to the different designs, or

-  file an application including different designs and later file a divisional application(s).

In this connection, however, it should be noted that it is not allowed to file a divisional application on a “partial” design from a “whole” design application and vice versa.  Concerning the “partial” and “whole” designs, explanations are made below.

Further, there is an exception to the "single design per application" system, and the Japan's Design Law provides "related design" system for covering a plurality of similar designs.

1-1) Exception to the “single design per application” rule

The Japan’s Design Law exceptionally allows for discrete objects to be claimed in a single application if common sense indicates that such discrete objects are usually sold as a “set”, as in the case of, for example, a 3-piece set including a knife, fork and spoon. 

1-2) Related design applications

In the case where the priority US application contains a plurality of different but similar designs (e.g., minor variations of a certain design), such similar designs may be covered by utilizing the related design system in Japan.  Specifically, the similar designs can be covered by filing a principal design application and filing a related design application(s) by one day prior to the publication of the principal design. 

The design registered as the related design can be enforced independently of the registered principal design and other registered related design(s).  That is, a related design right can cover even a design similar to that related design, which, however, is not similar to the principal design. 

For covering such similar designs under the related design regime, it is possible to either:

-  file a principal design application and also file a related design application(s) simultaneously with the principal application or later (by one day prior to the publication of the principal design at the latest), or

-  file general design applications on the similar designs, and later amend the general applications into a principal design application and a related design application(s).

The JPO may find that the designs are not similar enough to be eligible for registration under the related design regime but there is no need to be so nervous about this point.  If the JPO denies the similarity, the JPO will issue an office action requesting the applicant to stop relying on the related design system and change the applications to normal applications.

 

Finally, the right of a registered related design is independent from the right of a registered principal design but there are the following exceptions.

1.   Synchronized protection term: 

The protection term for both of a registered principal design and a registered related design is 20 years from the registration date of the principal design.  This point, however, is substantially immaterial in the present case because the two applications will probably be registered almost simultaneously.  Further, the registered related design can be maintained even if the principal design is allowed to lapse due to non-payment of maintenance fee, and vice versa.   

 2.   Restriction of transfer of rights and licensing: 

The right of a registered related design cannot be transferred or licensed independently from the registered principal design.  That is, for transfer of design rights to a third party by assignment etc., the principal and related designs must be simultaneously transferred together to the same entity.  Further, also for licensing, the principal and related designs must be licensed simultaneously to the same entity.

 

Difference 2)  Partial Design System

The Japan’s Design Law has a “partial design system” which allows registration of parts of shapes or forms with distinct characteristics.  

The US system also provides a similar practice where dotted lines can be used to indicate non-claimed parts.  There is, however, one important difference.  That is, the Japan’s system requires that a partial design application should be filed with a clear indication that the application claims a partial design.  In the absence of such indication, the application will be recognized as claiming a whole design. 

Once filed with the indication of a partial design application, it is in principle not allowed to amend the application into a whole design application and vice versa.  Similarly, a divisional application on a partial design cannot be filed from a whole design application and vice versa. 

Therefore, if it is important to cover both of whole and partial designs, it is recommended to file both a whole design application and a partial design application.

 

Of course, there are many other differences between US and Japanese practices; however, the above differences are believed to be the main differences which require particular attention when filing a design application in Japan claiminig priority from a US design patent application.

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