Baby buggy patent declared invalid

Posted: 14th May 2013

familyA valuable patent protecting a transformable seat inlet for a child’s or doll’s pram has been declared invalid by the Patents County Court on the basis that its design did not involve an inventive step and was ‘obvious’ when compared with a pre-existing baby buggy design.

The UK patent holder, a German company (company A), had launched infringement proceedings against a New Zealand company (company B) after the latter began marketing a child buggy which had the capacity to transform into a carry cot. The UK market was important to both manufacturers.

Company B accused company A of making ‘unjustified threats’ of legal action and argued that the patent was obvious when its central claim to novelty was viewed in the light of the previously published design of a Chinese buggy model.

The court ruled that the pre-existing Chinese design did not deprive the patent of novelty inasmuch as it did not describe a means of fitting a seat plate to a chassis removably nor the type of fabric to be used in the product’s manufacture.

Ruling in favour of company B, the court accepted that the concepts of ‘convertible’ and ‘combination’ baby buggies were common general knowledge at the time of the patent's priority date in 2005. A skilled person seeking to put the Chinese design into practice would, without exercising any inventive step, have produced an arrangement within the patent’s central claim.