PLG Research Ltd and Another v Ardon International Ltd and Others: ChD 25 Nov 1994

A patent infingement claim was met by the assertion that the material covered had been disclosed before the patent had been obtained. The court was asked as to the test of whether the information in a claim had been disclosed. Aldous J said: ‘Mr. Thorley submitted that if a product had been made available to the public, it was not possible thereafter to patent the product whether claimed as a product claim or a product-by-process claim. That submission is too broad. Under the 1977 Act, patents may be granted for an invention covering a product that has been put on the market provided the product does not provide an enabling disclosure of the invention claimed. In most cases, prior sale of the product will make available information as to its contents and its method of manufacture, but it is possible to imagine circumstances where that will not happen. In such cases a subsequent patent may be obtained and the only safeguard given to the public is section 64 of the Act.’ The test is the same under the Patents Acts 1949 and 1977.
As to the case of Catnic: ‘Lord Diplock was expounding the common law approach to the construction of a patent. This has been replaced by the approach laid down by the Protocol. If the two approaches are the same, reference to Lord Diplock’s formulation is unnecessary, while if they are different it is dangerous.’
The court considered the liability of a company director for the infringement, the authorities clearly showed ‘that a director of a company was not automatically to be identified with his company for the purpose of the law of tort, however small the company may be and however powerful his control over its affairs’ and that ‘in every case where it is sought to make him liable for his company’s torts, it is necessary to examine with care what part he played personally in regard to the act or acts complained of’. Also: ‘I believe it is clear that a director will not be liable unless his involvement would be such as to render him liable as a joint tortfeasor if the company had not existed. For example, the law distinguishes between facilitating and procuring a tort. A person who only facilitates a tort is not liable as a joint tortfeasor whereas a person who procures the tort is liable.’


Aldous J


[1993] FSR 197


Patents Act 1977 2(2) 64


CitedC Evans and Sons Ltd v Spritebrand Ltd and another CA 1985
The court considered when a company director might be personally liable for acts of the company: ‘in order to make a director, other officer or employee of a company personally liable for the company’s tort, it is necessary to show either that he . .
CitedTownsend v Haworth CA 1875
The defendant sold chemicals to be used by the purchaser in infringement of patent and agreed to indemnify the purchaser if the patent should prove to be valid.
Held: Only the person who actually manufactures or sells infringing goods is the . .
CitedB E Lavender v Witten Industrial Diamonds 1979
. .
CitedCBS Songs Ltd v Amstrad Consumer Electronics Plc HL 12-May-1988
The plaintiffs as representatives sought to restrain Amstrad selling equipment with two cassette decks without taking precautions which would reasonably ensure that their copyrights would not be infringed by its users.
Held: Amstrad could only . .
CitedCatnic Components Ltd and Another v Hill and Smith Ltd HL 1982
The plaintiffs had been established as market leaders with their patented construction, had ample production capacity and stocks, but had never granted any licence under their patent. The patent was for a novel type of galvanised steel lintel, which . .

Cited by:

CitedKirin-Amgen Inc and others v Hoechst Marion Roussel Limited and others etc HL 21-Oct-2004
The claims arose in connection with the validity and alleged infringement of a European Patent on erythropoietin (‘EPO’).
Held: ‘Construction is objective in the sense that it is concerned with what a reasonable person to whom the utterance . .
Appeal fromPLG Research Ltd and Another v Ardon International Ltd and Others CA 1995
As to Catnic: ‘Lord Diplock was expounding the common law approach to the construction of a patent. This has been replaced by the approach laid down by the Protocol. If the two approaches are the same, reference to Lord Diplock’s formulation is . .
CitedMCA Records Inc and Another v Charly Records Ltd and others (No 5) CA 5-Oct-2001
The court discussed the personal liability of a director for torts committed by his company: ‘i) a director will not be treated as liable with the company as a joint tortfeasor if he does no more than carry out his constitutional role in the . .
CitedMerrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc and Another v H N Norton and Co Ltd; Same v Penn Etc HL 26-Oct-1995
A patent for a substance which had been produced naturally before the application of the process was invalid. The patent was invalidated after the discovery that the effect was produced naturally from an acid metabolite. Patent infringement does not . .
CitedGenerale Bank Nederland Nv (Formerly Credit Lyonnais Bank Nederland Nv) v Export Credit Guarantee Department CA 23-Jul-1997
The bank claimed that it had been defrauded, and that since an employee of the defendant had taken part in the fraud the defendant was had vicarious liability for his participation even though they knew nothing of it.
Held: Where A becomes . .
CitedHadley Industries Plc v Metal Sections Limited, Metsec (UK) Limited PatC 13-Nov-1998
A court no longer has the discretion as to whether to amend a patent upon application, but must, following European practice, do so when a proper application is made. This is the case despite the clear wording of the English Act. A judge at first . .
CitedSpringsteen v Flute International Ltd and Others PatC 10-Dec-1998
The court awarded andpound;1 per CD produced and not sold, and andpound;5 per CD produced and sold for infringement by pressing CDs of recordings of the claimant artist’s performances. The court considered the personal responsibility of the director . .
CitedStocznia Gdanska SA v Latvian Shipping Company and Others ComC 25-May-2001
When a claimant commenced litigating several issues, but succeeded only on some of the them, the rule allowing an award of costs to the generally successful party was not dependent upon questions of whether the party was reasonable to have raised . .
CitedAsahi Medical Co Ltd v Macopharma (UK) Ltd, Macopharma S A CA 16-Apr-2002
. .
CitedBunt v Tilley and others QBD 10-Mar-2006
The claimant sought damages in defamation in respect of statements made on internet bulletin boards. He pursued the operators of the bulletin boards, and the court now considered the liability of the Internet Service Providers whose systems had . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Intellectual Property, Company

Updated: 09 April 2022; Ref: scu.84773