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Jarden Consumer Solutions (Europe) Ltd v SEB SA and Groupe SEB UK Ltd, Patents Court, 28 February 2014, [2014] EWHC 445 (Pat), Arnold J

This case concerned the validity of SEB’s European Patent (UK) No. 2 085 003 entitled “Fryer with automatic fat coating” and whether it was infringed by Jarden’s import and sale of a fryer called the Breville Halo Health fryer. The patent described the object of the invention as “a novel fryer and a novel frying method” with various advantages. Mr Justice Arnold concluded that some claims (1, 3 and 8) were invalid for obviousness over prior art, but other claims (10, 11 and 13) were valid and infringed. The judgment provides a nice example of the way in which the English courts approach the issues of claims construction (interpretation) and obviousness whilst offering a relatively simple technical context with which to understand them.

The patent claimed a “dry fryer” and the finding of invalidity stemmed from the judge’s construction of that term. Jarden argued that, while it excluded a deep fryer, it included a shallow fryer (e.g for stir-frying). SEB argued that it excluded not only a deep fryer but also a shallow fryer. Arnold J, having set out the principles of construction of patent claims as summarised by Jacob LJ in Virgin v Premium [2009] EWCA Civ 1062, agreed with Jarden’s construction. He held that two pieces of cited prior art disclosed a shallow fryer and the differences between those and claims 1, 3 and 8 were obvious at the priority date.


On the issue of obviousness, the judge set out the Windsurfing test, as re-stated in Pozzoli v BDMO [2007] EWCA Civ 588, and supplemented it with some additional points relating to the way in which a person skilled in the art would approach a prior art citation (including whether or not it would be regarded as a useful starting point). Jarden argued that claims 10, 11 and 13 were obvious in light of a third piece of prior art. However, Arnold J considered that the skilled team would not have paid that document any attention at all and, even if it had done so, then the additional features in the patent’s claims would together require a non-obvious re-design. He said that Jarden’s case of obviousness was pure hindsight.

As part of his assessment of whether the Breville Halo Health fryer infringed, Arnold J had used the product himself and viewed videos of experiments carried out by Jarden in which chips were cooked with the complete product and also with parts of the product removed.

Read the decision (in English) here.

Head note: Rowena Stent