VDV R&D BVBA, VDV Beton N.V. and Grobeton N.V. v. Swaans Trilbetonbedrijf B.V., Swaans Beton Weert B.V., Swaans Materieel B.V. and Swaans Quality Force B.V., District Court The Hague, 9 September 2015, Case No. HA ZA 14-911.
Concrete grids. VDV R&D holds a European patent for “method for the realisation of concrete grids for stable floors for cattle and the like”. The court upheld the patent notwithstanding invalidity challenges based on lack of inventive step, insufficiency and added matter/extension of scope of protection.
The patent contains only method claims. Part of the claimed method is that grooves are applied to the concrete after partial curing and removal of the concrete grid from the mould. Swaans had argued that the patent was obvious in light of a German patent application (DE 224) disclosing a prefabricated concrete grid with grooves and a British application (GB 303) disclosing a process by which grooves are applied to the soft surface of concrete that is still in the mould.
The District Court ruled that DE does not disclose a method and does not provide any indication as to when and how grooves are to be applied to the concrete grid. Swaans has not argued why the skilled person would combine DE 224 with GB 303, nor that the skilled person would inevitably remove the concrete grid from the mould before applying the grooves. The obviousness argument was rejected.
The patent was deemed infringed because it could be inferred by the expert of VDV from the image on the website of the product as sold that it was made using the patented method. However, Swaans had argued that the application of the grooves was not done in the Netherlands, but in Belgium by a third party, Van de Sande, and therefore not all elements of the claim had been fulfilled in the Netherlands. VDV is allowed to supply further evidence that the infringing method had been applied by Swaans in the Netherlands.
Read the decision (in Dutch) here.
Head note: Jaap Bremer, BarentsKrans