Mölnlycke Health Care alleged that BSN Medical’s “Cutimed Siltec” range of layered wound dressings infringed its European Patent (UK) No 0855921, which claimed a wound dressing comprising a layer of “holey” form coated with a layer of skin-adhering hydrophobic gel (e.g. silicone gel) wherein the walls of the holes in the foam were coated with gel at the ends which were proximal to the wearer’s skin. BSN claimed that the patent was invalid for want of novelty, inventive step and sufficiency.
Mr Justice Floyd held that the patent was valid, but not infringed by the BSN products.
In construing the patent, Mr Justice Floyd confirmed that in the context of a product claim, the court was concerned with the end result and not with the means by which that result was achieved. Thus the requirement in claim 1 that the foam be “coated” with hydrophobic gel would be understood by the skilled person to mean that the foam and gel must be in intimate contact with one another; investigation into how that contact was achieved was irrelevant for the purposes of the claim.
The assessment of infringement turned on: (i) whether the silicone layer of the BSN products constituted a “gel”; and (ii) whether the silicone in the BSN product coated the walls of the holes in the foam.