Franz Grimme Landmaschinenfabrik GmbH & CO, KG v. Steenvoorden Constructie B.V. and Steenvoorden Industrial Equipment B.V., The Hague District Court, 20 April 2010, Case No. 357005 / KG ZA 10-70
Following a previous ex parte injunction against Steenvoorden (read that decision here), the District Court in The Hague found that Steenvoorden had infringed Grimme’s patent EP 0 730 399 for a device for separating potatoes from other materials by selling a machine called 'Evolution Separator'. The Court upheld the relevant claims 19 and 26, as the UK High Court had done previously in proceedings regarding a parallel patent. The court found that the device claimed in the patent was inventive over the prior art, because it did not need gravity to perform its separation function, and it used elastically deformable sleeves, which enable the machine to grab and remove stones without getting blocked.
Steenvoorden was found to have directly infringed the patent by offering the Evolution Separator machine with rubber intermediate roller bodies. The Evolution Separator was also offered with stainless steel roller bodies. This did not constitute direct infringement. However, Steenvoorden’s promotional materials and another publication explicitly mentioned the option to equip the machine with rubber roller bodies and the benefits thereof. Both the machine with stainless steel roller bodies and the optional rubber roller bodies were considered an essential component of the invention, and the offer to supply these components indirectly infringed the patent.