VG Colours BV and [Y] Bloemen BV v. Jovaplant Honselerdijk BV and Jovaplant Holding BV, District Court The Hague, The Netherlands, 2 August 2013, Case No. C/09/444588 / KG ZA 13-655
In line with Core Distribution Inc. v. Lidl Nederland GmbH (District Court The Hague, the Netherlands, 14 March 2012, Case number 377750 / HA ZA 10-3661, which may be read here), the provisional relief judge of the Court of The Hague held that there is limited room to argue infringement under the doctrine of equivalence if the degree of innovation of the invention is small. In the present case, the patentee held patents concerning methods for coloring flowers in pots. The methods inter alia encompassed inserting coloring liquid into the flower’s stem with a pipette or a needle. In the allegedly infringing method, however, coloring powder was inserted into the flower’s stem instead of coloring liquid, by way of a nozzle with a round (blunt) end instead of a pipette or a needle.
The judge held that the degree of innovation of the invention was small, in view of a pre-published PCT application that came very close. Keeping the abovementioned principle in mind, the judge held that in the allegedly infringing method, the insertion of the color into the stem took place in a clearly different way (and with other tools) than in the patents, and denied the appeal on the doctrine of equivalence.
Read the decision (in Dutch) here.
Head note: Geert Theuws