Grimme Maschinenfabrik GmbH & Co KG v Derek Scott (t/a/ Scotts Potato Machinery), Court of Appeal (Civil Division), High Court of Justice, London  EWCA Civ 1110
The Court of Appeal has allowed the patentee’s, Grimme Maschinenfabrik (“Grimme”), appeal against a decision of the Patents Court (Floyd J) that claim 1 of its patent was invalid for obviousness. Mr Scott’s counterclaim was rejected and the first instance decision on contributory infringement was upheld. The decision includes points of general application about the meaning of s60(2) of the Patents Act 1977 (indirect infringement) and also some helpful commentary on the usefulness of well reasoned decisions of the courts in other Member States.
The patent-in-suit concerned potato separator machinery. Grimme’s appeal against the finding that claim 1 was invalid for obviousness turned on a number of points of construction. The Court accepted Grimme’s submission that the judge had interpreted claim 1 too broadly. Although the Court recognised that the judge was not bound by the views of experts as to the meaning of ordinary words in the claim, it is a “strong thing for the court to take a different view from a consensual view of the experts”, particularly where the narrower interpretation was consistent with the inventor’s purpose, as was found to be the case here.