German Federal Supreme Court “Rezeptortyrosinkinase II” - findings of laboratory not protected as a product obtained directly by a process

The plaintiff is owner of a patent which protects, inter alia, a method for the detection of nucleic acid molecules. Due to a genetic alteration the molecule serves as a marker in the diagnosis of leucaemic diseases. One of the accused parties has delivered from Germany – where patent protection exists – non-infringing samples containing nucleic acid into the Czech Republic – where no patent protection exists. There, the samples are analyzed by further accused parties using the patent protected method. The test results gained through the process is then sent to Germany. The question was whether the findings of the laboratory were products that were directly obtained by a patent protected process in the meaning of Article 9, sentence 2, no. 3 German Patent Act. The Supreme Court denied this question and confirmed previous holdings of the District Court and the Higher Regional Court Munich (X ZR 124/15, „Rezeptortyrosinkinase II”). It argued that the findings of the laboratory were information that is excluded from protection under Article 52, paragraph 1d, EPC and Article 1, paragraph 3, no. 4, German Patent Act. Such piece of information could not be the object of a patent. Protection, however, was only afforded to products that would be eligible for patent protection. A sequence of data, for example, only met this condition if it revealed technical features which were “embossed” to it by the process. In an earlier decision, the Supreme Court had accepted this for video data which had been coded according to an invention in a certain manner for the purpose for data compression ( BGH, X-ZR 33/10 „MPEG-2-Videosignalkodierung“).