UK – Nampak Cartons Limited v. Rapid Action Packaging Limited

Posted: June 22nd, 2010

Nampak Cartons Limited v. Rapid Action Packaging Limited, Patents Court, Chancery Division, High Court of Justice, London, UK, 18 June 2010, [2010] EWHC 1458 (Pat)

The Patents Court has dismissed an appeal against the Patent Office Hearing Officer’s decision to uphold Rapid Action’s UK Patent No. 2 397 593.

Rapid Action’s patent concerns packaging for sandwiches.  Nampak’s application for revocation of the patent was based on lack of inventive step.  When the Hearing Officer rejected its validity attack Nampak appealed the decision to the Patents Court on the grounds that the Hearing Officer: (i) failed to properly consider the expert evidence; (ii) failed to properly construe the teaching of the prior art and ignored the attack based on common general knowledge and (iii) failed to follow the structural approach to assessing obviousness as laid down by the Court of Appeal in Pozzoli.

Dismissing the appeal Mr Justice Floyd held that the Hearing Officer had simply recorded the fact that the parties’ experts took opposing stances on obviousness, and had not substituted his own opinion for those of the experts.  Mr Justice Floyd also upheld the Hearing Officer’s dismissal of the substantive obviousness attacks: the Hearing Officer was entitled to reject these attacks as based on hindsight.  Lastly Mr Justice Floyd rejected the allegation that the Hearing Officer had made an error of principle and failed to apply the structured approach to assessing the question of obviousness laid down in Pozzoli.  While this approach is of assistance in the analysis of evidence, not every slip in its application amounts to an error of principle.  

Read the judgment (in English) here.

Head note: Scott Parker

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