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Intellectual Property and Commercial Court


2013 Min Zhuan Su Zi No. 96

Decision No. 2013 Min Zhuan Su Zi No. 96
Date January 23, 2015
Decision Highlight

A.A technical feature in a claim for an invention which consists of the combination of multiple technical features may be expressed in means-plus-function or step-plus-function language. Such claim shall be interpreted to cover the corresponding structure, material, or acts described in the description and equivalents thereof, but not limited in the example descried by the description. In addition, the interpretation of technical features shall include the corresponding components and structures descried in the description, as well as the relationship between the components. Otherwise, the function defined by the claim cannot be achieved.

B.The estoppel principle, also called prosecution history estoppel, means that when the supplement, amendment, correction, response and reply related to patentability narrow the scope of claims during the process of a patent application and maintenance, the patent owner cannot claim the limited or excluded part in the following patent infringement suits. The estoppel principle can be the basis of claim construction and may prevent the applicability of doctrine of equivalents . . . . The “equivalents” of the corresponding means-plus-function structure in substance is part of claim construction, and therefore the estoppel principle is applicable. When construing the claim of the patent at issue, the semi-vacuum suction machine could not be considered as a mean for suction due to the estoppel principle. When determining infringement, the corresponding mean for “position the component in the housing” should not be extended to use semi-vacuum suction, and therefore the doctrine of equivalents is not applicable.


Estoppel, Prosecution History Estoppel, Means-plus-function, Step-plus-function

Relevant statutes Article 19 paragraph 4 of the Enforcement Rules of the Patent Act (amended and promulgated on November 9, 2012)
  • Release Date:2020-11-13
  • Update:2020-12-07