On December 10, 2019, the IP Tribunal of the SPC announced the judgement of the appeal case filed by Tenda Co., Ltd. regarding the dispute of infringement of invention patent right. In this case, the SPC established the following principle for the infringement judgment of multi-agent implementation method patent. If the alleged infringer solidified the substantive content of the patent method in the sued infringing product for production or business purpose, and such act or the result of the act plays an irreplaceable substantive role in the full coverage of the technical features in the claim of the patent, that is, the end user could naturally reproduce the process of the patent method when using the sued infringing product normally, it shall be recognized that the alleged infringer has implemented the patent method and infringed on the rights of the patentee. After the judgment of this case was made, it attracted wide attention in the IP community, because the standard of "irreplaceable substantive role" proposed in the judgement extended the interpretation of the doctrine of full coverage that has been used for many years, which made one could fall into patent protection scope just because its technical scheme had "irreplaceable substantive role" for other parties, even if it did not implement all steps of the method patent. Besides, the theory of "solidification of the substantive content of patent Method" made the infringement of method patent potential extending to the manufacture and sale of products. Under this standard, manufacture and sale of hardware having the function of directly implementing patent method by hardware manufacturer will constitute the direct infringement rather than an indirect infringement of a method patent. The judgment in this case is a major innovation for the infringement judgment of multi-agent implementation method patent and even for the infringement judgment of general method patent, reflecting the value orientation of seeking substantive protection of intellectual property in China's IP judicial practice.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.