Patent Infringement in Medical Syringes

Judge Colin Birss QC, sitting in the Patents County Court, held that the claimant’s patent for a protective syringe was invalid and that the defendant could not be liable for infringement on this basis. Mr Liversidge claimed the defendant companies had infringed his 2003 patent relating to a safety assembly for a syringe, leading the defendant companies to counterclaim for the patent to be declared invalid.

The patent itself related to the safety assembly and did not include the ability for the syringe to inject. Three years later, an automatic injection device was designed by the defendants for use in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The claimant then amended his patent in 2009.

The Patents County Court held that there had been no infringement of the patent. It found that the defendant’s syringe operated by the piston pushing the syringe in order to move it, whereas the claimant’s syringe worked by bulges on the plunger pushing the syringe and needle forward. The amendments to the patent were also held to be significant. The original application, as filed in 2003, was concerned with a safety assembly for a syringe to prevent needle stick injuries. However, the amendment relegated this and instead focused on the workings of the syringe and the relevance of the bulges on the plunger in making the device work.

Furthermore, the patent was held to lack novelty, thereby rendering it invalid.

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