Vite! Vite! Mettons les produits sur les tablettes! On nous poursuit!

Dans la cause Flex-Rest, LLC v. Steelcase, Inc. (Fed. Cir.; July 13, 2006), Steelcase stipulait que son support “KBS” pour clavier était en contrefaçon. De son côté, Flex-Rest stipulait que l’appareil de Steelcase avait été conçu et “mis en application” (“reduced to practice”) avant que l’invention de Flex-Rest ait été conçue en novembre 1990. Flex-Rest stipulait également que le produit KBS enseignait toutes les limitations des revendications affirmées. Conséquemment, l’appareil de Steelcase invalidait complètement les revendications en question sous 35 U.S.C.102 (g)… à moins que Flex-Rest puisse établir “a sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find . . . that there was suppression or abandonment by Steelcase in connection with the KBS [device].”… ce que Flex-Rest ne put réussir.

Under 35 U.S.C. § 102(g)(2), “[a] person shall be entitled to a patent unless—. . . before such person’s invention thereof, the invention was made in this country by another inventor who had not abandoned, suppressed, or concealed it.” The Federal Circuit explained that there are actually two types of suppression or concealment under this section of the statute:
cases in which the inventor intentionally suppresses or conceals his invention, and cases in which a legal inference of suppression or concealment can be drawn based on an unreasonable delay in making the invention publicly known.

Selon le Juge Linn:

In this case, Flex-Rest offered no evidence to indicate that Steelcase’s delay of six and one-half months between reduction to practice and commercialization of the KBS device was not the result of reasonable steps to bring the invention to market. After reduction to practice, Steelcase resolved design issues and spent $775,000 on tooling for the parts to the KBS device. The lead times for creating the tooling varied from four weeks to approximately six months. Therefore, it does not appear that Steelcase could have brought the KBS device to market much sooner than the trade show unveiling in June 1991.

At the same time, Steelcase’s patent counsel began drafting a patent application for the KBS device, submitting a first draft to Steelcase in March 1991. The draft was reviewed by the four named inventors and filed in May 1991. No evidence indicated that this amount of time was unreasonably long.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *