JAPANESE IP COURT STEPS INTO ACTION: The Intellectual Property High Court (IPHC) of Japan overturned a lower court ruling Friday, ruling that Justsystem Corp. can continue to produce and sell its Ichitaro word-processing software and Hanako graphics software because they do not infringe on a Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. patent. The high court said Justsystem's "help mode button" in the Ichitaro and Hanako software does not have the same function as the icon in Matsushita's patent specifications.
The district court in February of this year found that Justsystem infringed on a Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. patent involving a function called "help mode button" in a case filed by Matsushita against the Tokushima-based software company. Matsushita maintained that the Justsystem software indirectly infringed on Matsushita's patent. Justsystem appealed the February district court ruling. This was the first decision handed down by the Grand Panel.
As reported previously on this blog, the IPHC panel comprises of five judges with specific knowledge in intellectual property issues, and is referred to as "The Grand Panel of the Intellectual Property High Court" (Why "grand?" I can understand "supreme" or "high" courts, but "grand?" Sounds like something from a Liberace skit . . .)
Presiding judge Katsumi Shinohara also said that Matsushita's patent, filed in 1989 and registered in 1998, is "invalid because it lacks inventive elements." He also said the icon "could have been developed with the technology before the application."
The next case will be heard by the court on October 7, 2005 - Nippon Synthetic Chemical Industry Co will be taking the JPO Commissioner to task over one of their revoked patents. Tune in for the fun.