The Intellectual Property Court rendered the 103-Hang-Zhuan-Su-9 Administrative Decision of July 10, 2014 (hereinafter, the "Decision"), holding that one or a combination of multiple documents may be used to determine if a patent has inventive steps, as opposed to determining novelty based on a single document.

According to the facts underlying the Decision, Delta Electronics applied to the Intellectual Property Office (hereinafter, the "IPO") for an invention patent on "fans" with 50 claims. A patent certificate (hereinafter, the "Patent-in-suit") was subsequently granted after examination. Individual A who believed that the Patent-in-suit violated the requirements of the Patent Law filed an invalidation action. Although Delta Electronics subsequently submitted a amendment of the description and claims, the IPO still believed that the Patent-in-suit should be revoked after its examination.

This Decision first indicates that inventive steps are determined based on prior art, and the inventive steps of the patent application should be determined upon the existing technical foundation of the industry. To determine whether a patent has inventive steps, it should focus on whether the differences between the patented invention or creation and prior art are obvious to achieve. When such differences are determined, the invention or creation of the patent application should be determined as a whole rather than its separate constituting elements. Therefore, in determining inventive steps, the inventions or creations set forth in each of the claims are assessed as a whole instead of comparing individual constituting elements with prior art one by one. It is for this reason thatwhether a patent application has inventive steps may be determined based on one or a combination of multiple documents, as opposed to determining novelty based on a singled document.

This Decision further concluded that person having ordinary skill in the art of the Patent-in-suit can determine if the differences between Claims 1 through 50 and relevant evidences or their combinations can be easily accomplished or are obvious in order to conclude if the claims in the Patent-in-suit have inventive steps. It was held in this Decision as a result of its determination that Exhibits 3 and 4 can prove, individually or in combination, that Claims 1 and 26 do not have inventive steps, whereas Exhibits 2, 3, 4 and 5 can prove, individually or in combination, Claims 2-25 and 27-50 do not have inventive steps.

This Decision further concluded that person having ordinary skill in the art of the Patent-in-suit can determine if the differences between Claims 1 through 50 and relevant evidences or their combinations can be easily accomplished or are obvious in order to conclude if the claims in the Patent-in-suit have inventive steps. It was held in this Decision as a result of its determination that Exhibits 3 and 4 can prove, individually or in combination, that Claims 1 and 26 do not have inventive steps, whereas Exhibits 2, 3, 4 and 5 can prove, individually or in combination, Claims 2-25 and 27-50 do not have inventive steps. Therefore, the original administrative measure to revoke the Patent-in-suit was upheld and the complaint of Delta Electronics was rejected.