The German Federal Supreme Court defines its approach to the Doctrine of Equivalence more precisely

In a decision pronounced on January 13, 2015 (X ZR 81/13 “Cooking Vessel”) the German Federal Supreme Court defines its approach to the Doctrine of Equivalence more precisely. A judgment of the Higher Regional Court of Munich, which found infringement, has been cancelled. A solution, which does not literally infringe, can be covered by a patent claim under the Doctrine of Equivalence under three preconditions: Firstly, the solution solves the problem underlying the invention with altered means which, however, objectively have the same effect. Secondly, the common general knowledge of the skilled person must enable him/her to find that the altered solution with its altered means has the same effect. Thirdly, the considerations applied by the skilled person must be based on the meaning of the technical teaching protected by the patent claim. As to the question of the same effect, it is decisive which impact the features of the claim - isolated and together - have for the solution of the problem underlying the patent claim and whether this impact is achieved by the accused embodiment through different means. Consequently, it is mandatory to analyze the patent claim with regard to the question which effects, which can be achieved by the features, must come together according to the patent for the solution of the underlying problem. This entirety represents the patented solution and, therefore, constitutes the effect which is relevant for the comparison. A differentiation between “effects according to the essence of the invention” and “additional effects” is mistaken. The decision is, furthermore, interesting under another aspect. It is ruled that any party, which is accused of patent infringement, can rely on the fact that the patent claims are wrongly translated into the German language, even if this party did not know about the mistakes in the translation.