The Patent Review 2013 - 2014: Construction and Relevance of Numerals in Patent: Jarden Consumer Solutions (Europe) Limited V. SEB SA & Groupe SEB UK Limited, [2014] EWCA Civ 1629, Court of Appeal

15 April 2015

Neil Jenkins, Audrey Horton

Jarden Consumer Solutions (Europe) Limited V. SEB SA & Groupe SEB UK Limited, [2014] EWCA Civ 1629, Court of Appeal

SEB's patent related to food frying machines known as dry fryers. Jarden manufactured the Breville Halo Health Fryer (the "Halo"), which competed with SEB’s product, the Tefal Actifry fryer (the "Actifryer").

The Judge held that claims 1, 3 and 8 of the patent were invalid, claims 1 and 3 would have been infringed if they had been valid and claims 10, 11 and 13 were valid and had been infringed. Jarden appealed against the Judge’s finding of infringement of claims 10, 11, and 13.

Jarden’s primary contention on the appeal was that the Judge misinterpreted the term "the main body" as including the lid of the fryer mainly on the basis that he had wrongly made use of numerals in the Patent to construe its meaning. Jarden argued that its Halo fryer did not infringe the Patent, properly construed, because the claims required the main heater to be located in the main body whereas the Halo's main heater was entirely located in its lid.

The Court of Appeal held that the Judge's construction of the term main body so as to include the lid was wrong. In the first place, they held that the Judge had fallen into error by allowing the numerals used in the specification to influence the construction of the claim in violation of Jacob LJ's clear instruction against so doing in Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd v. Premium Aircraft Interiors UK Ltd [2009] EWCA Civ 1062. However, having held that the Judge had fallen into error in this way, the Court of Appeal considered itself free to consider the matter afresh. Although the Court of Appeal accepted that the use of the language in the patent was not entirely consistent, nevertheless they considered that paying close attention to the process of construction set out in Virgin Atlantic, the Judge was wrong to conclude that the main heater mounted in the main body could include a main heater mounted in the lid.

As a result, they allowed that part of Jarden's appeal.