United States: Microsoft V. Philips (PTAB, May 22, 2018) (Article In Korean)

미국 특허심판원(PTAB)의 자명성 공격이나 미국 특허청(USPTO) 심사관의 거절에 대응하는 일은 까다로울 수 있습니다.  KSR v. Teleflex 사건(2007년)에서 대법원은 자명성이라는 결론을 뒷받침할 수 있는 몇가지 근거(7가지)를 제시하였습니다. 대부분의 근거는 선행 문헌의 조합으로 산출된 결과에 대한 예측 가능성에 의존하며, 심사관/피고는 해당 발명 및 선행 기술에 가장 적합한 이론적 근거를 고르고 선택합니다.

특허출원인 또는 특허권자의 책략은 이러한 도전에 방어하기 위해 비자명성 도구 중에서 올바른 도구를 찾는 것이며, 이러한 도구 중 한 가지가 오늘날까지도 여전히 적용되는 오래된 판례입니다.  그 사례는 In re Ratti(CCPA 1959)입니다.  이 사례가 전하는 바는 만약 선행 기술이 제안하는 변형 또는 조합이 변형되는 선행 기술 발명의 작동 원리를 바꿀 경우 선행 기술 내용이 청구발명을 자명하기 하기에는 충분하지 않다는 것입니다. 이 판례에서 법원은 "제안된 기술 조합은 제1선행문헌에 기재된 요소의 상당한 재건 및 재설계를 필요로 한다”는 주장과 함께 자명성 거절을 뒤집었습니다.

본 사례가 미국 특허청(USPTO)(예: MPEP 2143.01-VI)에 의해 여전히 인용되는 판례라는 점은 다소 놀라울 수 있습니다.  그런데 KSR 이전에 판결된 이 사례는 예측 가능성에 대한 문제를 다루지 않으며, KSR 결정은 In re Ratti 의 이론적 근거를 적용하지 않았습니다.  KSR 판례의 발명은 고정된 중심점에 전자 페달 위치 센서를 부착한 조정 가능한 페달이었습니다.  제1 선행 기술(Asano)은 고정된 중심점과 기계식 스로틀 제어 장치가 있는 조정 가능한 페달이었으며,  제2 선행기술은 중심점 상에 위치한 전자 페달 센서였습니다.  법원은 Asano의 시스템을 기계식 제어 스로틀에서 전자 제어 스로틀로 변형하는 행위가 자명했다는 특허침해 혐의자의 의견에 동의하였습니다.  이에 대해 한편으로는 이러한 변형이 Asano 페달의 작동 원리를 바꾸고, Asano 페달의 상당한 재건 및 재설계를 필요로 한다고 주장할 수 있으나,다른 한편으로는 Asano의 기술과 조합이 매끄럽게 이뤄질 수 있도록 Asano의 작동 원리를 재정의함으로써 KSRIn re Ratti는 엇갈리지 않는다고 설명할 수도 있습니다.

여하튼 미국 특허청(USPTO), 특히 특허심판원(PTAB),은 여전히 발명의 비자명성을 유지하기 위해 In re Ratti에 기대고 있습니다.  예를 들어 최근 미국 특허심판원(PTAB)은 Microsoft v. Philips(PTAB, 2018년 5월 22일) 사건에서 자동 축소/확대 기능을 사용한 휴대통신 장치를 대상으로 한 특허행정심판(Inter Partes Review) 청원서를 기각하면서 이 판례를 인용하였습니다.  청구항의 시스템은 화면에 표시된 이미지에서 사용자가 터치 화면의 이미지 일부를 터치함으로써 선택하고, 최초의 크기보다 큰 두 번째 크기로 선택된 이미지 일부를 디스플레이에 표시할 때, 두 번째 크기로 표시된 이미지가 최초 크기 이미지의 터치 위치를 중심으로 확대 표시하는 장치였습니다.  제1 선행기술(Murase)은 사용자의 손가락 또는 스타일러스 접근 방식(예: 비 터치 기반)을 바탕으로 이미지를 자동 확대하는 자동 확대/축소 기능이었습니다.  사용자가 화면을 터치할 경우 Murase 시스템에서 확대된 디스플레이 화면에 따라 사용자의 선택을 기반으로 입력을 식별합니다.  제2 선행 기술(Heikkinen)은 터치를 통해 영역을 확대하고 다시 선택을 위해 터치하는 방식의 모바일 단말기였습니다.  미국 특허심판원(PTAB)은 자명성 주장을 거절하면서 다음과 같이 밝혔습니다:

Murase 및 Heikkinen의 제안된 조합이 “[선행 기술]의 의도된 작동 원칙”을 변경한다는 주장이 설득력이 있다고 했습니다.In re Ratti, 270 F.2d 810, 813 (C.C.P.A. 1959년). 터치 방식의 식별 및 선택을 가능케 하는 시스템(Murase)을 확대 및 선택 방식의 장기 터치 시스템(Heikkinen)으로 교체하는 행위는 Murase 시스템이 고안된 작동 원칙을 변경한다고 볼 수 있습니다. 이러한 추가 의견을 이유로 Murase 및 Heikkinen을 조합하는 동기가 관련기술 분야에서 통상적인 능력을 지닌 이에게 있었을 것이라는 청원인의 주장을 받아들일 수 없습니다.

본 사례에서 미국 특허심판원(PTAB)은 Murase 시스템의 제안된 변형이 예측 가능한 결과인지 여부를 고려하지 않았으며, KSR 사례도 언급하지 않았습니다.  이처럼 미국 특허심판원(PTAB)은 In re Ratti를 근거로 자명서 거절사유를 뒤집는 경우를 실무에서 종종 볼 수 있습니다.  이처럼 특정 상황에서 In re Ratti판례는 오래됐음에도 불구하고 특허출원인 및 특허권자에게 여전히 유용한 도구로 쓰이고 있습니다.

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