Invalidity of dependent claims

Published onJuly 2014

French Cour de cassation, the highest civil Court in France, has just issued a decision, on May 20, 2014, reminding that the invalidity of dependent claims of a patent cannot be inferred from the invalidity of the independent claim to which those dependent claims refer.

The patent was related to an identification device for a weapon, in particular a firearm.

The Court of Appeals of Paris had decided to cancel independent claim 1 considering it did not involve an inventive step. The Court was in the view that the invention was obvious to a person skilled in the art, in this case an identification specialist, for it consisted in the juxtaposition of means already known.

Although there was a highly disputed argument related to the characterization of the person skilled in the art, the Cour de cassation approved the reasons of the lower court on that part. However, it cancelled the decision for deducing the invalidity of the dependent claims from the invalidity of independent claim 1 to which the other dependent claims referred.

What you need to remember

  • If an independent claim is new and involves an inventive step
    → The dependent claims referring to that independent claim will also be valid on the same grounds
  • If an independent claim is not new or does not involve an inventive step
    → The dependent claims referring to that independent claim are not necessarily invalid; their validity must be assessed on a case by case basis.

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