Aebi Schmidt Nederland B.V. v. Schuitemaker Industrial B.V., Provisional judgment in preliminary injunction proceedings, District Court of The Hague, The Netherlands, 23 November 2012, KG ZA 12-1083.
Aebi Schmidt (“Aebi”)is the owner of EP 0995 838 (EP ‘838) for a “Utility vehicle with a device to be detachably mounted”. The “device” referred to is a spreading device, used, presumably, for spreading salt on roads to prevent car accidents during the winter. Both Aebi and defendant Schuitemaker produce and sell (parts for) spreading devices. Aebi Schmidt claims that Schuitmaker infringes EP ‘838. The District Court of The Hague, however, accepts Schuitemaker’s nullity defence based on lack of inventive step and dismisses the claims.
With respect to the alleged lack of novelty, the District Court considers that the description and the drawings of prior art document DE 3737220 A1 (DE ‘220) which discloses a device that shows all the characteristics of the first part of claim 1 of EP ‘838, do not directly an unambiguously disclose if DE ‘220 also discloses a torsion support that is supported at the mounted device. As a consequence, the District Court considers that EP ‘838 does not lack novelty.
With respect to inventive step, the District Court considers that the only difference between a mounted device as disclosed in DE ‘220 and the mounted device as disclosed in EP ‘838, consists of the torsion support being connected to the mounted device instead of the chassis of the vehicle. A mounted device according to EP ‘838 leads to a simplification of the mounting procedure of the mounted device that includes a drive unit, as known from the prior art. EP ‘838 prevents an extra mounting action (since it is not necessary to connect the torsion support to the vehicle, because it is already connected to the mounted device). Therefore, the technical objective problem for which EP ‘838 offers the solution can be described as ‘to provide for a mounted device that can be simply installed on a vehicle’. Prior art documents NL 8201464 (NL ‘464) and Gebrauchsmuster G 9206372.1 (GM ‘372) apply a construction that connects a drive unit directly to a mounted spreading device. For this reason, according to the District Court, the skilled person could find the solution to this problem in NL ‘464 and GM ‘372. Therefore, the District Court considers that there is a real change that the Dutch part of EP ‘838 will be nullified in proceedings on the merits bases on lack of inventive step and dismisses the claims.
Read the decision (in Dutch) here.
Head note: Jaap Bremer