The never-ending patent story


Michael Lantos

A Hungarian inventor designed a sports shoe intended mainly for football players.

The inventor’s contribution lay in that the presence of grooves and ribs improved ball control; and the grooves were able to divert the ball in the desired direction, which increased the player’s accuracy of targeting the ball. A Hungarian patent was granted to the inventor covering this shoe.

The inventor noticed that one of the world’s largest sports shoe manufacturers brought a similar design into the market. He then launched a patent lawsuit in Hungary against the company, and in response the company filed a nullity proceeding against the patent. The infringement lawsuit was suspended by the competent court awaiting a final decision in the nullity case.

The basis of the nullity proceeding was two or three prior patent publications, wherein different features of the attacked patent were disclosed. However, it was never disclosed that the shoe must have more than one zone in which the directions of the grooves and ribs are different, and that the ball-reflecting edges made on the surface of the prior art shoes were edges of discrete rubber areas instead of being densely juxtaposed grooves and ribs.

Patent, nullity proceeding