Maxwell Keay appeared on behalf of the Defendant (‘Horizont’) in this patent revocation claim.
The parties to the action were both in the business of electric road traffic signs. The Claimant (‘Nissen’) sought to revoke a UK patent owned by Horizont for an invention entitled ‘Mobile warning device for road traffic’. The alleged ground of invalidity was lack of inventive step over three items of prior art.
The trial was heard by His Honour Judge Hacon, sitting in the IPEC. The Judge considered the case law regarding the relevance of regulatory issues to inventive step and held that, whilst the perception that implementing the prior art would result in a dangerous outcome may be relevant on certain facts, if a variant of the prior art would be technically obvious this would not cease to be the case because the outcome would be dangerous or would not meet regulatory approval. The Judge then found that the patent claims lacked inventive step over two of the items of prior art and the patent was therefore invalid.