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美国专利和欧洲专利的差异(Differences between US an

(2010-08-30 14:15:14)
标签:

欧洲专利

美国专利

差异

专利申请

宽限期

教育

分类: 专利知识

The European Patent Convention (EPC)     欧洲专利公约(EPC

Currently, for ICT-related inventions the two most important areas to obtain patent protection are probably the United States and West-European countries. Twenty European countries are currently member to the European Patent Convention, and it is possible to obtain patent protection in those countries through a single procedure before the European Patent Office.

目前,与信息通讯技术相关的两个最重要的领域的发明,其专利的保护一般都是通过进入美国和西欧等国家获取的。欧洲专利公约当前加入了20个新成员国,并使申请人在向欧洲专利局提交申请之前能够通过某单一程序向所在成员国申请专利保护。

While quite a few aspects of patent law have been harmonized internationally (not in the least due to treaties like the Patent Cooperation Treaty or TRIPS), there still are many important differences between the two systems. This article discusses several of them.

 虽然,专利法中有相当几个方面的内容已经做了国际化的协调与统一(不完全与《专利合作条约》以及《与贸易有关的知识产权协议》相同),但美欧两个系统间仍旧存在重要的差异,本文就其差异做出以下几点概括。

First to file versus first to invent

先申请制VS先发明制

When two people apply for a patent on the same invention, the first person to have filed his application will get the patent (assuming the invention is patentable, of course). This holds even if the second person did in fact come up with the invention first. The only thing that counts is the filing date.

 若两名当事人就同一个发明分别申请专利权,那么率先提出申请者将获得该专利权(假设该发明确认是具有可专利性的)。由此认为,尽管此项发明是由第二个申请人先提出的,但仅以提交申请的日期为准。

In the USA, a slightly different approach is used. In case of two applications for the same invention (a so-called interference), a determination is made who invented it first. This usually involves examining laboratory logbooks, establishing dates for prototypes, and so on. If the person who filed later is found to have invented earlier, he may be awarded the patent.

而美国则使用了稍微不同的方法。为了避免两位申请人申请同一发明的专利(即所谓的干扰),于是由先发明制决定专利权的所属人。依据通常包括:检查实验室研发日记,专利原型的创建日期等。如果后申请人能证明是其先做此发明的,也有获得专利权的可能。

Grace period

宽限期

If the invention has become publicly available in any way before the patent application was filed, the application will be rejected (Article 54 EPC). "Publicly available" includes selling the invention, giving a lecture about it, showing it to an investor without a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), publishing it in a magazine, and so on. It does not make a difference whether the person making it publicly available is the inventor, one of the inventors, or an independent third party.

若发明是在提交专利申请之前以任何形式向社会公开过的,该申请将被拒绝(《欧洲专利公约》第54条规定)。公开发布的形式包括出售发明,召开讲座,未规定保密协议(NDA)就向投资者展示,在杂志上发表等。无论做出此行为的人是发明者、发明者之一或者独立的第三方,该申请都将被拒。

The USA has a one-year grace period (35 US Code section 102). This means that the inventor can freely publish his invention without losing patent rights. However, this only applies for the USA. If an inventor does so, he automatically loses all potential patent rights in Europe (as well as many other countries in the world).

美国对此有一年的宽限期(35美国法典第102条规定),这意味着发明人能在此期限内自由发布其发明的信息且不会因此失去专利权。然而,此规定只适用于美国。若发明人做出了以上行为,他将自动失去欧洲国家的潜在专利权(全球除美国以外的任意国家均不支持此项规定)。

Best mode requirement

最佳模式的要求

US patent law requires the inventor to include the best way to practice the invention in the patent application (35 US Code section 112). This way, the inventor cannot get a patent and still keep some essential or advantageous aspect a secret.

美国专利法案要求发明者在专利申请书中要包含一个实现该发明的最佳方式(35美国法典第112条规定)。通过这种方式,可以防止发明人在获得专利的同时还保留一些必要或有利的方面作为秘密。

In contrast, European patent law has no such requirement. At least one way of practicing the invention must be included in the application (Article 83 EPC), but there is nothing that states this way must be the best way, or even a good way.

相反,欧洲专利法案并没有做此规定。但是,申请人要在递交申请书时包含至少一项该发明的实践方式(《欧洲专利公约》第83条规定),然而没有在实践方法的好坏程度上做规定。

Publication of patent applications

专利申请的公布

Until recently, US patents were only published after grant. This has been changed, and now in the US patent applications are published 18 months after their filing date, unless they have been withdrawn or they are filed with a non-publication request, stating that the application is US only.

直至最近,美国专利只有在经过授权之后才能公布的规定已被更改。除了专利申请被撤销或者提出非公开裁决的要求这两种状况之外,美国的专利申请将会在申请之日起的十八个月后进行公布,并声明该规定只适用于美国。

This is very similar (except for the request) to the European situation, where all patent applications are published 18 months after their filing date, unless they have been withdrawn. If the novelty search has been completed by that time, the search report is included with the publication.

欧洲公布专利申请的规定与美国的情况相似(要求方面有所不同),除了专利申请被撤销的情况以外,欧洲专利均能在申请之日起的十八个月后进行公布。若发明新颖性的检索能在同一时期完成,那该检索报告就会包含在公布的内容里。

The publication of a patent application is not an indication of the patentability of the invention in any way. It only means that the application is 18 months old. In the past, people used to the US system of publishing only granted patents could incorrectly assume that anything published by the EPO was a granted patent.

任何情况下,一个专利申请的公布并不代表此发明完全具有可获得专利的性质,这只表示该申请已达18个月之久。在过去,人们习惯于美国公布制度只公布已被授权的专利,因此错误地认为由欧洲专利公约公布的专利就是一个已被授权的专利。

You can tell the difference between an application and a granted patent in two ways. First, the number in the top-right corner has an "A" when the publication is an application, and a "B" when it is a patent. Second, granted European patents do not have an abstract on the front cover.

我们能通过两种方式来区分一项专利申请和一个已授权专利。方法一,当一份出版声明只处于申请阶段,那么文件右上角的编号显示为“A”。相反的,当一项申请已经被授权为专利时,则文件的右上角编号显示为“B”;方法二,已授权的欧洲专利在其公告书的封面上不会有该专利的摘要。

Rights conferred by a granted patent

已授权专利所拥有的权利

A US patent is a property right which is enforceable in the whole territory of the USA. It allows the patent holder to prevent anyone from making, using or selling in the USA the patented invention. This is because the US patent law (35 US Code) is a federal statute.

一项美国专利是一个在美国领土内各地区实施有效的产权。专利持有人将有权阻止在美国境内的任何个人或者团体进行制作、利用甚至出售此项发明专利。以上规定的依据是,美国专利法(35美国法典)即是美国联邦法。

In contrast, the European Patent Convention is a treaty signed by twenty-seven European countries, namely

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Patents under the EPC are granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich.

相比之下,欧洲专利公约就是一项由奥地利、比利时、保加利亚、瑞士、塞浦路斯、捷克、德国、丹麦、爱沙尼亚、西班牙、芬兰、法国、希腊、匈牙利、爱尔兰、意大利、列支敦士登、卢森堡、摩洛哥、荷兰、葡萄牙、罗马尼亚、斯洛文尼亚、斯洛伐克、瑞典、土耳其以及英国这二十七个欧洲国家联合签订的条约。以上国家的专利均由总部在慕尼黑的欧洲专利局所授权。

 

A granted European patent under the EPC confers to its owner the same right as a national patent in those EPC countries he elected in the application. So, essentially, a European patent changes into a "bundle" of national patents. This means that, once granted, a European patent can only be annulled by separate proceedings in each elected country. However, during the first nine months after the grant of the patent, anyone can start an opposition procedure at the EPO to annul the patent in all these countries at once.

一项在欧洲专利公约下已被授权的欧洲专利,其在申请人所选的成员国中都是通行有效的国家专利。因此,基本上,一项欧洲专利就变成了“一扎”国家专利。这也意味着,一旦欧洲专利被授权,只有通过公约各成员国逐一进行操作程序才能废除该专利。然而,在该专利被授权后的头九个月内,任何人都有权向欧洲专利局提出异议并开始进入异议程序,要求立即在公约所有成员国废除该专利。

Opposition after grant

授权之后的异议

Within nine months after the grant of a European patent, anyone can file an opposition with the EPO, stating why this patent should not have been granted (of course with arguments and evidence). The patent holder and the opponent can then debate with each other. Finally, the EPO will take a decision based on facts and arguments presented by both sides.

在一项欧洲专利被授权之后的九个月内,任何人都可以提交一份异议书到欧洲专利局, 陈述为什么这个专利不应该被授权(当然,还包括要提交论据和证明)。 然后,该专利持有者与反对者可以彼此答辩。 最终,欧洲专利局会根据双方呈现的事实与论据做最后的裁定。

Usually, after the parties presented their case to the EPO (by exchanging numerous letters with each other), the patent holder and the opponent present their case during Oral Proceedings at the EPO in Munich. After these proceedings, usually a final decision is made by the EPO, although sometimes the proceedings are then continued again in writing. Both parties can appeal the decision, which once again results in an exchange of letters followed by Oral Proceedings.

正常情况下,在专利持有者与反对者双方都把他们的案子递到欧洲专利局之后(彼此以大量的通信作为交流), 他们要在位于慕尼黑的欧洲专利局总部进入口头诉讼阶段并呈现自己的证据。 经过此诉讼程序, 欧洲专利局通常会做出最终的裁定,即使有时候该诉讼还会再通过书面继续进行。 双方都可以为最终裁定提出上述, 这将导致以通信方式进行的口头诉讼再次实现。

While the USA has a reexamination procedure, it does not work the same as an opposition. In a reexamination, anyone can present reasons and evidence to the USPTO to challenge the validity of a granted patent. However, it is then the patent holder who engages in a discussion with the USPTO examiner to establish the validity of the reasons. The challenger is not a part of these proceedings.

但在美国,有一个专利复核的程序,它与异议程序的运行不一样。在复核程序期间,任何人都可以呈现推论与证据至美国专利与商标局,对一份授权专利的认证进行质疑。然而,该专利持有者进行与美国专利与商标局的讨论,巩固了该专利的认证具有确切可信的理由。这种质疑并不属于这些诉讼程序的一部分。

Inventive step

创造性步骤

See also

§  When is an invention obvious?

The two most important requirements in European patent law are that, to be patentable, an invention must be novel and involve an inventive step (Article 52 EPC). This is comparable to the US requirement that the invention must be novel and must not be obvious (35 US Code sections 102 and 103). In fact, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, which streamlines the filing process in its member country, also requires that an invention be novel and involve an inventive step, but states that being non-obvious is sufficient to involve an inventive step.

欧洲专利法中有两点最重要的要求,即要成为具有可专利性的发明,必须要有新颖性,还要包含创造性步骤(《欧洲专利公约》第52条规定)。这一点与美国所要求的发明必须要新颖性但不能显而易见(35 美国法典 第102和103条规定)很相似。实际上,专利合作条约(PCT)简化了其成员国的申请程序,同时要求一项发明要有新颖性以及要包含创造性步骤,但它也表明稀奇的发明包含创造性步骤也是可以的。

However, the EPO has a more strict interpretation of this term. A European patent application involves an inventive step if it solves a technical problem in a non-obvious way. Note that this introduces two extra requirements: it must solve a problem (no problem solved means no inventive step), and that problem must be technical (solving economic problems means no inventive step).

但是,欧洲专利公约在这一点上有更狭义的解释。如果一个欧洲专利能够运用鲜见的方法解决一个技术性问题,那该申请只要求包含创造性步骤也可行。注意,这里介绍了两个额外的要求:一是它必须解决一个问题(没有问题可解决也就等于没有创造性步骤),二是那个问题必须是技术性的问题(解决经济问题的话也就等于没有创造性步骤)。

To determine the technical problem, one operates as follows. First, a determination is made whether the invention is novel. If it is, then the prior art document that shares the most features with the invention (or most closely resembles the invention in some other way) is chosen as the closest prior art. The differences are then compared to determine a problem that is solved by the invention.

要确定其是否为技术性问题,以下的操作方法可以运用。首先,要坚定这项发明是否有新颖性。如果它有,那么,与现有技术共有绝大部分发明特点的发明(或者在其他方面与其最相似的发明)是被选作为最近的现有技术。它们之间的差别在于,比较再决定一个问题能否被该发明所解决。

For example, if the invention relates to a bike with a reflector, and the closest prior art is a bike with no lights at all, the technical problem is to enhance the visibility of the driver during dark weather conditions. This problem is solved by adding a reflector to the bike, since the reflector allows other road participants to see the driver on his bike in the dark due to the light reflecting on it.

例如,如果该项发明涉及到一辆带反射镜的自行车,而且最接近的现有技术是一种完全没有灯的自行车,那么,该技术问题就存在于提高骑车者在黑暗的环境中的可视程度。这个问题通过添加一个反射镜到自行车上的方法解决,因为反射镜反射出去的光线让道路上的其他人能够看得到自行车上的人。

The next question is whether the solution would be obvious when solving the technical problem. In the above example, the common solution for cars, airplanes and other objects like signal towers would be to add a headlight to signal the presence of the object. Following the common approach, a skilled person would add a headlight to the bike. This would make the solution non-obvious, so that the invention involves an inventive step.

接下来的问题是, 该解决方案在解决技术问题时是否显而易见。在上述例子中,汽车、飞机以及其他类似单向信号接受塔的交通工具的普遍解决办法,可能就是添加一个机头灯,作为让其显现的标志。根据这个普遍的方法,技术人员会给自行车加一个车头灯。这会使该解决方法变得并不显而易见,所以该发明就包含了创造性步骤。

It should perhaps be pointed out that "skilled person" and "obvious" do not mean the same in patent law as they do in real life.

这里可能应该要指出的是,词语“技术人员”和“显而易见”在专利法中的与现实生活中的含义并不是一致的.

Of particular importance is that the technical problem is not determined with hindsight. Often, when confronted with an invention, the immediate reaction is that it is obvious, because the solution appears so natural. This would not do justice to the effort needed to arrive at the invention. If everyone was satisfied with the suboptimal solution (e.g. a bike with a headlight, which requires a dynamo that must be charged by human effort), then the insight that a different approach might be better, could very well constitute an invention.

特别重要的是,技术问题并不是事后决定的。通常,面对一项发明的立即反应是显而易见的,因为这个方案显得那么自然。这将对为获得该发明说作出的努力不公平。如果每个人都满足于这个次优的解决方案(例如:一辆带车头灯的自行车,要求再装一个由人类的努力实现的车尾灯),然后发现,一种不同的方法可能是更好的,它很可能构成一种发明

Two-part claims

两部分的权利要求

See also

§  Determining the scope of a patent

European patents and applications typically (virtually always) contain so-called two-part claims. That is, a claim lists some features, then contains the phrase "characterized in that" or "with an improvement comprising", and then one or more further features. Those latter features are what constitutes the invention (and so are often called the characterizing features). The former features are found in the prior art.

欧洲的专利与申请,通常(几乎总是)包括所谓的两部分的权利要求。即,第一部分权利要求列出一些特征,其中包含“characterized in that”或者“with an improvement comprising”的短语,然后是一个或更多的特点。后者那些特征构成了该发明(通常被称为描述特征)。前者那些特征则构建了现有技术。

If an application is filed with one-part claims, the first thing that will happen is that the Examiner identifies the closest prior art (the document that shares the most features with the invention, or most closely resembles the invention in some other way) and requests that the claim be delimited therefrom.

如果申请人提交一份第一部分的权利要求,那么,接下来第一件发生的事是审查官会鉴定与其最接近的现有技术(审查那些拥有绝大部分共同特征的发明文件,或是在其他方面大部分相似的发明文件)并要求该权利要求由此而被限定界限。

In contrast, US patent applications (and patents) will almost always have one-part claims. If you see a two-part claim in a US patent, chances are the patent is owned by a European firm. In the US, if you use two-part claims (also called "Jepson claims", after the first patent attorney to use them), anything before the characterizing portion is regarded to be prior art by definition. If the applicant by accident put a novel feature in the precharacterizing portion, it's regarded as prior art and may damage the patentability.

与此相比,在美国专利申请(以及专利)中,几乎总是有第一部分的权利要求。如果你看见一个第二部分的权利要求在一个美国专利中出现,那么该专利可能是欧洲的一家公司持有的。在美国,如果你用第二部分的权利要求(在第一个专利授权人使用他们之后,也被称为“吉普森式权利要求”),在特征部分之前的任何发明都会被定义为现有技术。如果该申请人偶然把一个新颖的特点放在前特征部分,该专利将被认为是现有技术并可能会不利于专利保护。

In Europe, if the applicant puts a feature in the precharacterizing portion of a claim which does not, in fact, occur in the closest prior art, he is simply asked to move that feature to the characterizing portion. This happens frequently, as often the applicant starts out with a document he found himself as closest prior art, but during the examination another document is regarded as closer prior art, and then the claim needs to be adjusted. However, this does not affect the patentability directly.

在欧洲,如申请人把一个专利特征放在权利要求的前特征部分,上述美国的情况实际上不会在最近的现有技术上发生,他只是要求把该特征转移到特征部分。这种情况会经常发生,以致申请人发现自己的发明与最近的现有技术很相似,然后需要调整修改权利要求。可是,这并不会直接影响专利保护权。

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