DeLaval Holding AB v. Boumatic Robotics B.V., President of the The Hague District Court, 7 December 2012, Case/docket no. 429613/ KG ZA 12-1165
DeLaval holds a patent relating to a rack with a cleaning device for use in a milking machine. In such rack, the teat cups hang upside down and a cleaning device can move from a position not underneath the cups, to a position vertically below the cups. The judge comes to the preliminary finding that the patent is invalid due to a lack of inventive step.
In its reasoning, the Court starts from a document that discloses teat cups hanging upside down and which mentions that appropriate cleaning means may be provided. The skilled person would combine this with a movable cleaning device known from another document. This does not require inventive effort. The fact that the movement is automated does also not contribute to the inventive step.
Another document also discloses almost all features of the patent, except for their orientation. In this disclosure, the teat cups are not hanging upside down. According to the judge, it does not require any inventive effort to turn this system upside down, as this has obvious advantages.
Boumatic's counterclaim, directed at a cross-border anti-suit injunction, is dismissed. The Court is not convinced that it has jurisdiction to grant such injunction, although it is noted that this question should be referred to the European Court of Justice.
Read the decision (in Dutch) here.
Head note: Paul van Dongen