Patent law, case VI SA/Wa 2279/08

October 27th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 27 May 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 2279/08 ruled that the Polish Patent Office is not an authority that mechanically approves patents granted by the EPO. The Court held that if the dispute between the applicant and the Polish Patent Office related to the nature of the invention, as is was in this case, by refusing to grant a patent, the Patent Office in principle cannot merely on its own conviction as to the subject of the patent application. The PPO should seek to gather sufficient evidence to support its position. Such evidence could include witness-expert testimony. The absence of a comprehensive hearing of evidence and basing the questioned decisions mostly on its own belief in the recognition, what is the subject of the patent application, and such a situation took place in this case, justified the infringement of Articles 7, 77 § 1 and Article 107 § 3 of the APC, as having a significant impact on the outcome of the case.

Article 7
Public administration bodies shall uphold the rule of law during proceedings and shall take all necessary steps to clarify the facts of a case and to resolve it, having regard to the public interest and the legitimate interests of members of the public.


Article 77.
§ 1. The public administration body is required to comprehensively collect and examine all evidential material.
§ 2. At each stage of proceedings a body can amend, supplement or withdraw rulings made regarding the examination of evidence.
§ 3. An body conducting proceedings as a result of having been required to do so by the body having jurisdiction to settle the case (Article 52) may, on an ex officio basis or on application by one of the parties, hear new witnesses or experts on circumstances that form the objects of such proceedings.
§ 4. Universally accepted facts and facts known to the body ex officio do not require proof. Parties to proceedings should be informed of facts that are known to the body.


Article 107.
§ 1. A decision should contain: the name of the public administration body, the date of issue, the name(s) of the party or parties, the legal authority referred to, a ruling, a factual and legal justification, an advisory notice as to whether and how an appeal may be brought and the signature, name and position of the person authorised to issue the decision. Any decision which may be challenged by a petition to the civil court or a complaint to the administrative court should contain an advisory notice that such a petition or complaint may be brought.
§ 2. Other regulations may contain other elements which a decision should contain.
§ 3. The factual justification of the decision should contain the facts that the body regards as proven, the evidence relied upon and the reasons for which other evidence has been treated as not authentic and without probative force. The legal justification should contain the legal authority for the decision with reference to the relevant law.
§ 4. If the decision fully reflects the demands of the party then there is no need to provide a justification for the decision, but this does not apply to decisions in contentious cases and decisions given on appeal.
§ 5. A body can also dispense with a justification of a decision in such cases if under current statutory regulations there is a possibility of dispensing with or limiting the justification because of the interests of State security or public order.

The Court ruled that the PPO should make a thorough analysis of the concept of “technical character of the invention” and should indicate why it interprets it very narrowly, taking in this respect the view of the EPO. The PPO should also consider whether the European patent has been granted for the same solution, and examine the merits of different assessment of the invention in Poland. During the re-hearing of the case the PPO will will take the position whether the applied solution has been sufficiently disclosed, and if so, only then will further examine its patentability, given that one of the elements of assessing the patentability of the invention is a technical solutions. Due to the lack of legal definition of a “solution of a technical nature” in assessing a technical nature of the present invention the PPO is obliged to indicate what in the opinion of the PPO is deemed as “technical solution”. The PPO will assess the technical nature of the claimed invention and will refer to the applicant’s arguments, if the interpretation of that concept made by the PPO would continue to differ on how this concept is understood to the applicant.