Summary of Case

Guangdong Midea Cooling Equipment Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Midea) is a subsidiary of Midea Group. It is a large entity specializing in developing, manufacturing, marketing and serving domestic appliances, commercial air conditioners and central air conditioners. Several patents concerning domestic air conditioners have been granted under Midea’s name since 2012. Such domestic air conditioners are very popular after they have been launched to the market. A company in Ningbo (hereinafter referred to as NC) began to copy Midea’s domestic air conditioners and sell the products in a large scale due to the attractive profit, whose act has caused severe damage to Midea’s interest and disturbed market order. Therefore, Midea initiated a patent litigation against NC. During one of the first instance of litigations, the court brought in a verdict that the defendant’s product fell into the protection scope of Midea’s patent and therefore constituted infringement against Midea’s patent right. However, the defendant was not satisfied with the verdict and filed an appeal before Guangdong Higher People’s Court.

Midea entrusted Jiaquan IP Law to file a response to the appeal. Mr. Feng Jianming, senior patent attorney in Jiaquan IP Law first analyzed the grounds raised by the defendant in the appeal, that is the alleged infringing product is lack of two essential technical features “the first location column and the second location column” as described in Claim 7 of the involved patent and does not fall into the protection scope of the involved patent.

However, after analysis, Mr. Feng found that “the first and second location column” was obviously a typing error and should be corrected based on actual situation so as to protect the lawful rights and interests of the patentee. Referring to the Drawing 2, the description mentions “the inner side surface 223 of the first location piece 221 could be considered as alignment arc with the wall 211 of the first installing hole. The inner side surface 224 of the second location piece 222 could be considered as alignment arc with the wall 211 of the first installing hole”. Further, there is nowhere to find any item as “the first location column” in the whole description of the involved patent. Therefore, it is undoubtedly concluded that the typing error “the first and second location column” shall be corrected into “the first and second location piece”. In this case, the defendant’s claim that he did not infringe the patent right of Midea could not be accepted. After court debate, the court agreed on the aforesaid point of view and considered that the defendant’s claim was not accepted and rejected the appeal and affirmed the original judgment.

Legal Basis

Patent Law of the People's Republic of China

Article 59 For the patent right of an invention or a utility model, the scope of protection shall be confined to what is claimed, and the written description and the pictures attached may be used to explain what is claimed.

Comments:

The applicant may explain the protection scope of the patent in the following ways:

  • Description and drawings shall be used to fairly enlarge or narrow the protection scope of claimed technical solution as described in the claims. That is, to include those features equivalent to essential technical features in the protection scope of the patent or confine some claimed essential technical feature as described in description and drawings.
  • When the technical feature as described in the independent claim is unclear, it is possible to clarify the issue with dependent claims or description and drawings.
  • When the drawings number is quoted in the claims, the technical feature in the claims shall not be restricted to the detailed structure as described in drawings. The protection scope of the patent shall not be completely limited to detailed embodiment as described in the description.
  • Abstract could not be used to determine the protection scope of the patent right nor explain the claims.
  • If obvious typing error arises in the claims or description, it shall be correctly explained based on actual situation.