[IP Case Summary: Japan-Patent]2021 (Gyo-Ke) No. 10001-Intellectual Property High Court（October 28, 2021）
“Column Bus Driving Method for Micro Display Device”
The Intellectual Property (IP) High Court upheld a decision rendered by the Board of Examiners of the Japan Patent Office (JPO) in an appeal trial that maintained a final rejection of a patent application.
Whether the amended claim, which was found by the JPO as lacking novelty for reading on the prior art, can be considered to have been independently patentable at the time of filing.
Summary of Conclusion:
The IP High Court established that the prior art includes the amended claim’s feature of sequentially activating controllable bus buffers in strings of two or more controllable bus buffers connected in series, such that each node is sequentially and temporally driven, wherein the controllable local output buffers are each sequentially activated in order of, and simultaneously with, the sequential activation of the controllable bus buffers, such that at least the nodes associated during the activation of the controllable local output buffers are active. The IP High Court also established that the amended claim 1 does not recite an “activation controller”, and therefore it could not differ from the prior art in terms of having a “buffer activation process” and thus have novelty simply because the prior art does not include the “activation controller” claimed by the plaintiff (in another claim). Consequently, the IP High Court found no error in the JPO’s determination that the amended claim lacks novelty and fails to satisfy the requirements for granting a patent based on the independent claims.
The plaintiff argued that the JPO arrived at a premature decision by examining only claim 1 and failing to examine any of the other claims. However, the IP High Court dismissed the plaintiff’s argument on the grounds that the Patent Act predicates a fundamental structure for which decisions on granting patents or trial decisions are made as a single administrative action, a single patent is granted on that basis, and a single patent right comes into existence. Patents are not granted for each claim, and even in the case of a patent application relating to multiple claims, there are no dispositions to handle them separately so as to grant a patent on some of the claims and to finally reject the rest of the pending claims (refer to the IP High Court case of 2007 (Gyo-Hi) No. 318).