[IP Case Summary: Japan-Patent]2020 (Gyo-Ke) No. 10128 – Intellectual Property High Court (January 11, 2022)
“Safety Check System, Receiver, Safety Check Method and Program”
The Intellectual Property (IP) Hight Court overturned a decision by the Board of Examiners of the Japan Patent Office (JPO) that rejected a patent application on the grounds that the claimed invention would have been easily conceived of.
Whether the “detection part ID which is a reference number optionally identifying a power strip 4 in a residence” of the prior art is equivalent to the “ID number relating to a facility of installation and an installation site in the facility” of the claimed invention.
Summary of Conclusion:
The claimed invention identifies an installation site of an illumination device based on “an ID number relating to a facility of installation and an installation site in the facility” (information capable of identifying each room), and performs a safety determination in accordance with rules corresponding to the installation site, wherein the positional information of the installation site is used in the safety determination.
Although the “detection unit ID” of the cited prior art D1 is a reference number optionally identifying a “power strip 4” in a residence, D1 does not teach that the “detection unit ID” is related to information representing the installation site of the “power strip 4”. A person using the power strip optionally determines where the power strip is installed and how it is connected to the electrical device, and thus no grounds could be found that would make it possible to identify the installation site of the “power strip 4” even if the “power strip 4” was uniquely identified. Identifying the installation site from the “detection part ID” requires some additional information linking the “detection part ID” and the “power strip 4”.
In view of the above, the “detection part ID” of the prior art reference does not identify the installation site within a residence, and differs in terms of technical significance from the “internal management ID number” specifying an installation site within a residence from among the positional information of the claimed invention. The JPO Board of Examiners interpreted the “detection part ID” of the prior art reference as being equivalent to the “internal management ID number” of the claimed invention, and incorporated its use for a safety check into the findings on matching points, but the IP High Court ruled that this finding was incorrect.
If we consider an embodiment in which the electrical device is limited to a light fixture, the prior art reference appears similar to the claimed invention. However, the claimed invention focuses on the situation of use for illumination devices in each room, such as a living room toilet and bedroom (i.e., where people are located), in order to check the safety of people, whereas the prior art reference focuses on the operation for each electrical device connected to the power strip, such as a TV, fridge, air conditioner, light fixture and electric kettle (i.e., what people are using). The claimed invention and cited prior art differ from each other in terms of the basic concept of what they focus on in order to determine safety, and it can be said that the difference in technical significance between the “ID number” of the claimed invention and the “detection part ID” of the prior art reference is reflected in this basic concept. Since the decision by the JPO Board of Examiners overlooked this difference, the findings on matching points are considered to have been incorrect.