知財コラム

4) 特許表示に関する改正

特許表示に関しては以下の2点について改正が行われました。

虚偽特許表示に対する訴訟の制限

虚偽特許表示に関しては、2009年のForest Group事件の判決において、公衆を騙す意図が立証されれば、虚偽表示がなされた「製品ごと」に500ドルの罰金が科され、その半分が原告に配分されると判示されましたが、その後いわゆるmarking trollと呼ばれる者が虚偽特許表示に対する訴訟を多数提訴するという事態に発展してしまいました。

今回の改正では、このようなmarking trollの出現を防止するため、国のみがそのような訴訟を提起できることとし、一般の者はcompetitive injuryが発生した場合に民事訴訟においてその損害を請求できることとしました(§292(a)(b))。
なお、権利期間が満了している特許についての特許表示は292条の違反には該当しないことも規定されました(§292(c))。

§292 False marking
(a) Whoever, without the consent of the patentee, marks upon, or affixes to, or uses in advertising in connection with anything made, used, offered for sale, or sold by such person within the United States, or imported by the person into the United States, the name or any imitation of the name of the patentee, the patent number, or the words “patent,” “patentee,” or the like, with the intent of counterfeiting or imitating the mark of the patentee, or of deceiving the public and inducing them to believe that the thing was made, offered for sale, sold, or imported into the United States by or with the consent of the patentee; or Whoever marks upon, or affixes to, or uses in advertising in connection with any unpatented article the word “patent” or any word or number importing the same is patented, for the purpose of deceiving the public; or Whoever marks upon, or affixes to, or uses in advertising in connection with any article the words “patent applied for,” “patent pending,” or any word importing that an application for patent has been made, when no application for patent has been made, or if made, is not pending, for the purpose of deceiving the public – Shall be fined not more than $500 for every such offense. Only the United States may sue for the penalty authorized by this subsection.
(b) A person who has suffered a competitive injury as a result of a violation of this section may file a civil action in a district court of the United States for recovery of damages adequate to compensate for the injury.
(c) The marking of a product, in a manner described in subsection (a), with matter relating to a patent that covered that product but has expired is not a violation of this section.

特許表示要件の緩和 (Virtual Marking)

今回の改正では、特許製品と特許番号の情報をインターネット上に掲示し、製品には”patent”または”pat.”とそのアドレスを示すこと、いわゆるvirtual markingを特許表示として許めることとしました(§287(a))。

§287 Limitation on damages and other remedies; marking and notice
(a) Patentees, and persons making, offering for sale, or selling within the United States any patented article for or under them, or importing any patented article into the United States, may give notice to the public that the same is patented, either by fixing thereon the word “patent” or the abbreviation “pat.”, together with the number of the patent, or by fixing thereon the word “patent” or the abbreviation “pat.” together with an address of a posting on the Internet, accessible to the public without charge for accessing the address, that associates the patented article with the number of the patent, or when, from the character of the article, this cannot be done, by fixing to it, or to the package wherein one or more of them is contained, a label containing a like notice. In the event of failure so to mark, no damages shall be recovered by the patentee in any action for infringement, except on proof that the infringer was notified of the infringement and continued to infringe thereafter, in which event damages may be recovered only for infringement occurring after such notice. Filing of an action for infringement shall constitute such notice.

これらの改正事項は、2011年9月16日の時点で係属中の訴訟及びそれ以降に提起された訴訟に適用されます。

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