2,293,106 / 2,485,813 / 2,411,964 / 2,350,264
As discussed in yesterday’s post, the Rider Position Patents at issue in Bombardier v Arctic Cat survived all validity attacks but one, and Roy J held they would have been infringed if valid. However, Roy J held the patents invalid for insufficiency, on the basis that the patents “do not describe how the inventions are to be put in operation . That a person skilled in the art would be able to make the invention in light of the disclosure, was, according to Roy J, “beside the point” :
Ever since Consolboard, the law has been clear that the specification alone is to be used to put the invention into practice, without the assistance of a minor research project.”
See similarly , , emphasizing that if even a “minor” research project is required, the specification is inadequate. The above reference to Consolboard notwithstanding, Roy J’s primary authority for this point is the Viagra decision, Teva Canada Ltd v Pfizer Canada Inc, 2012 SCC 60, which was cited throughout Roy J’s decision.
The proposition that a specification is insufficient if it requires the skilled person to carry out a minor research project to put the invention into practice, is with due respect, an error of law. This proposition is not entirely novel. Some very early cases did indeed suggest that the specification had to explain in detail how to work the invention, “without the necessity of trying experiments” Turner v. Winter (1787) 99 Eng. Rep. 1274, 1276-77, 1 WPC 77, 80 (KB); and see R v Arkwright (1785) 1 WPC 64, 66; Morgan v Seaward (1836), 1 WPC 170, 175. But these cases did not address the precise degree of experimentation permissible. The difficulty with a strict rule excluding any experimentation at all, is that in almost any field there are some steps that require some degree of routine trial and error. To require a patentee to describe all steps with sufficient particularity to avoid such trials would leave the patent open to technical attacks. In some cases it might be impossible to frame a valid claim, even though a skilled person would easily be able to work the invention on the basis of the disclosure. Such remarks were therefore immediately tempered by the principle that they are addressed to a person skilled in the relevant art; as Jessel MR said in Otto v. Linford (1882) 46 L.T.(NS) 35 at 41, in the course of holding that the disclosure was not insufficient because it did not specify the precise proportions for fuel and air necessary for combustion, “[t]he first thing to be remembered, in specifications of patents, is that they are addressed to those who know something about that matter.” And even before that, in Morgan v Seaward, Alderson B at 175, stated that the specification “must actually and plainly set forth what the invention is, and how it is to be carried into effect, so as to save a party the trouble of making experiments and trials,” but he went on to say, at 176, that the workman brings his “ordinary knowledge” to the job and if the size of the parts is not specified, this is not fatal: “He says, ‘I see this will not work because it is too small,’ and then he makes it a little larger, and finds it will work.”