first decision, designated a leading case (Leitsatzentscheidung) by the Court, the BGH finds that a key witness lacked credibility and concludes that the public prior use which led the Federal Patent Court to invalidate the patent for lack of novelty was not established. The patent at issue was Nichia's EP 936 682, an important patent concerning white light emitting diodes that has also been the subject of opposition proceedings before the EPO. The decision is remarkable because the Federal Court of Justice is bound by the fact finding of the lower court unless there are specific doubts regarding the correctness and completeness of the fact finding (§ 529(1) Civil Procedure Act). The Court held that there were specific doubts as to the credibility of a key witness for the public prior use, whose testimony was inconsistent with that of other witnesses and established facts. The twist was that the witness had died in the meantime and could not be questioned again. This, so the BGH, did not preclude it from finding the testimony unpersuasive. After it had concluded that public prior use was not proven, the Court assessed inventive step based on the record before it and found the subject matter(s) of the claims to be inventive.
|Fig. 1 of EP 1 389 985|