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Friday, 22 April 2005


Smith International Inc v Specialised Petroleum Services Group Ltd [2005] EWHC 686 (Ch), decided today by Mr Justice Lewison and posted on BAILII, touched on the validity of an amended patent.

SPS owned a patent for apparatus for catching debris in a well bore designed for use in the oil and gas drilling industry. The apparatus incorporated a filter through which the well fluid was circulated, to remove debris. Smith applied to revoke the patent on the ground that the invention claimed was not novel and/or did not involve an inventive step. Even after SPS amended its claims, the Patent Office concluded that claim 1 of the patent had been anticipated by prior art but that most of the rest of the patent was fine. SPS appealed against the ruling on claim 1; Smith cross-appealed against the other rulings.

Lewison J allowed SPS' appeal but dismissed Smith's cross-appeals, holding that the hearing officer had erred in concluding that claim 1 was anticipated by prior art. He had concluded that the prior art include a filter and that the invention set out in claim 1 of the patent had therefore been anticipated. This was not however the case.

The IPKat says: "this is one of those cases that seems to turn pretty well entirely on the facts, with no real law in it". Merpel adds, "at least we know that Lewison J is still doing patent cases. He doesn't seem to have had one for ages".

Well bores here and here
Small bores here and here
Big bores here; big boars here

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