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Waterfront succeeds in patent invalidity claim for Ningbo Wentai Sports Equipment Co.

May 9, 2012

Waterfront was instructed by Ningbo Wentai Sports Equipment Co Ltd (“Ningbo”). Ningbo is a Chinese entity involved in the manufacture of  “One-Click” golf trolleys sold in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.  

Jonathan Wang had obtained patents in China and the UK which covered Ningbo’s “One-Click” products. However, Ningbo contended that it was the original inventor of the “One-Click” products and had disclosed these products to the public prior to the priority date of the patents. 

Ningbo had already succeeded in a prior use claim in the Chinese courts and now claimed that the UK patent was invalid.   Waterfront contacted Mr Wang in December 2011 setting out Ningbo’s claim of invalidity.  Having received no substantive response to that claim, Waterfront issued proceedings against Mr Wang in early 2012 claiming revocation of the patent and a declaration of invalidity.  

When his Defence was finally filed Mr Wang would not admit that the “One-Click” products had the features of the patent.  He also argued that Ningbo’s disclosures did not count as novelty destroying because they were in breach of an obligation of confidence.  

Waterfront immediately issued an application for summary judgment and argued that the breach of confidence argument was bad as matter of law in light of the EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal decision in UNIVERSITY PATENTS ([2001] E.P.O.R. 33).  

In April this year Mr Wang’s lawyers accepted that their client had no defence to the invalidity claim and agreed to submit to summary judgment. An order revoking the patent and granting a declaration of non-infringement was made by HHJ Birss of the Patents County Court on 30 April 2012.  

Matthew Harris led the Waterfront team on this matter, assisted by Francesca Badowska.