Posted: December 9th, 2015
TCO AS v. Vosstech AS, Bjørgum Mekaniske AS, Stig Ove Bjørgum, Gulating Court of Appeal, 15 May 2015, LG-2013-162132
The case concerned whether Vosstech AS’s VT-C barrier plug infringed TCO’s patent on barrier plugs (used to seal oil wells). The case also concerned violations of the Marketing Control Act with regard to unfair business practice and unfair use of trade secrets or technical aids with regard to the VT-C barrier plug as well as an additional barrier plug (VT MC) from Vosstech.
Nord-Hordaland District Court had previously ruled in favor of Vosstech, both with regard to the claims on patent infringement as well as violation of the provisions of the Marketing Control Act.
TCO appealed the decision, and 15 May 2015, Gulating Court of Appeal rendered its decision in favor of the appellant.
Claim 1 of TCO’s patent had the feature that between the different layers of the plug there was inserted “a film or a sheet of another material than glass, in order to achieve desired strength and toughness.”
Vosstech’s barrier plug consisted of a lower glass disk and an upper glass disk. In between these disks was a 7 mm liquid layer.
The District Court had found that the fluid layer had another function than described in TCO’s patent. In the view of the Court of Appeal, a skilled person would understand the expression “film” to also possibly include various types of fluids. Since the patent did not describe a designated thickness of the film, the patent claim would therefore also include a layer of fluid, e.g. 7 mm. The Court of Appeal therefore ruled that Vosstech with the VT-C glass barrier plug had committed direct infringement of TCO’s patent.
The Court of Appeal also ruled that Vosstech had violated the Marketing Control Act.
TCO had also claimed damages as well as a prohibition of manufacturing, selling and marketing both of the barrier plugs. The Court of Appeal rendered that the prohibition should last 4 years. This was based on the Court’s discretion. The Court of Appeal also awarded 12 million NOK in damages to TCO.
Vosstech appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, but the Court only permitted entrance for the question concerning the measuring of damages. The parties have later agreed to a settlement outside the courts.
Read the entire decision (in Norwegian) here.
Head note: Håkon Austdal, Haavind