Rapid growth in patent filings in 3D printing and additive manufacturing over the last decade
What conclusions can we draw from the huge recent growth of patent filings in 3D printing?
Wilson Gunn has been instrumental in obtaining a UK High Court judgement for its client Blue Gentian, LLC which confirms that its key expandable hosepipe patent GB2490276B is both valid and infringed by one of its major competitors, Tristar Products, Inc.
The patent covers a rather neat invention – expandable hosepipes in which an elastic inner tube is covered by a non-elastic outer tube, and both tubes are coupled at both ends, the hosepipe expanding when connected to a pressurised water supply such as tap, and contracting when the water pressure is stopped.
Blue Gentian licenses its patent under the XHOSE hosepipe brand, and the XHOSE range of hosepipe products has been a global success. In a judgement given by Mr Justice Birss, the patent was confirmed as being novel and inventive over all of the prior art raised by Tristar Products, Inc., and Tristar’s competing expandable hosepipe, the FLEX~ABLE HOSE, was found to infringe the claims of the patent.
In a recent order, Judge Birss confirmed that Tristar must pay Blue Gentian’s costs, cease selling its FLEX~ABLE HOSE product in the UK, and publish a notification on its UK subsidiary’s website confirming its infringement of the Blue Gentian patent.
An interesting point arising from this trial, is that one of the main pieces of “prior art” raised against the validity of the patent related to a gas hose for an oxygen mask. Judge Birss considered that without a gas-mask, the gas hose lacked any means to enable the hose to expand or contract, while if it was considered with a gas-mask attached, it could not be a garden water hose assembly as required by the Blue Gentian patent claim. It therefore didn’t invalidate the patent.
While the current weather may not be conducive to use of hosepipes in the UK, our client can now look forward to a glorious summer in the secure knowledge that its patent rights are working to protect its market.
If you would like more information on this judgement, or on any potential patent infringement and validity situation, please do not hesitate to contact us.