Case Study: Invalidity Study Against a Blocking Patent for Bulk Manufacturing of an Alloy

The Client

A reputed and established Alloy making company in Switzerland.

The Challenge

Alloy making company wanted to manufacture a ferrosilicon alloy in bulk; composition of the very ferrosilicon alloy was found to be patented by a European company. The key challenge was to find valid prior arts that can be used to oppose and invalidate the blocking patent. The main obstacle was to find prior arts which mention a specific percentage range of a rare earth element in the ferrosilicon alloy composition. Many cited documents which mentioned similar ferrosilicon alloy composition closely missed the boundary of specific percentage range for that rare earth element.

Our Solution

To approach this opposition search, IP search team understood the granted claims and explored patent registrar documents to understand opinion of examiners during prosecution and search strategies adopted by the examiner. IP search team exploited various patent and non-patent search databases such as Derwent Innovation, Orbit and Scopus to get relevant prior arts. Sole key word search couldn’t help to get good result.

IP search team then approached the search using very specific F-terms and IPC/CPC Classes. An old JP relevant patent document was captured via this mode that mentioned similar composition with that specific rare earth element in the specified percentage range. The curious thing was that keyword was not able to locate this document due to poor English translation.

Client Impact

Client has filed opposition against this EP patent recently; arguments produced during the opposition prosecution by the patent owner do not seem to be strong enough to counter the disclosure present in the prior art found by us.