Jarden Consumer Solutions (Europe) Ltd v SEB SA and Groupe SEB UK Ltd, Patents Court, 28 February 2014,  EWHC 445 (Pat), Arnold J
This case concerned the validity of SEB’s European Patent (UK) No. 2 085 003 entitled “Fryer with automatic fat coating” and whether it was infringed by Jarden’s import and sale of a fryer called the Breville Halo Health fryer. The patent described the object of the invention as “a novel fryer and a novel frying method” with various advantages. Mr Justice Arnold concluded that some claims (1, 3 and 8) were invalid for obviousness over prior art, but other claims (10, 11 and 13) were valid and infringed. The judgment provides a nice example of the way in which the English courts approach the issues of claims construction (interpretation) and obviousness whilst offering a relatively simple technical context with which to understand them.
The patent claimed a “dry fryer” and the finding of invalidity stemmed from the judge’s construction of that term. Jarden argued that, while it excluded a deep fryer, it included a shallow fryer (e.g for stir-frying). SEB argued that it excluded not only a deep fryer but also a shallow fryer. Arnold J, having set out the principles of construction of patent claims as summarised by Jacob LJ in Virgin v Premium  EWCA Civ 1062, agreed with Jarden’s construction. He held that two pieces of cited prior art disclosed a shallow fryer and the differences between those and claims 1, 3 and 8 were obvious at the priority date.