Rembrandts in the Attic – the Forgotten Value of Patent


By Teo Bong Kwang*

0n 26 September 2010, Jimi Heselden, a British businessman who recently bought the Segway company was happily riding the famed “Segway” scooter in his huge Yorkshire estate. In a tragic turn, the Segway scooter ran over the cliff and into a river and Heselden was immediately killed. At that time, Segway scooter was a much touted invention of US inventor Dean Kamen.

Surely not every invention has tragic consequence. On the contrary, many inventions brought much happiness, fame and fortune to their inventors or owners. Take the example of the “One Click” patent of Amazon which was granted by the US Patent Office in 1999. It has reportedly generated billions for Amazon.

The Hidden Value of Patent

Many of us are totally oblivious to the immense commercial value of an invention or for that matter, the importance of an intellectual capital in the form of a patent in any business enterprise.  The vast majority of companies are simply unaware of the often-enormous economic and competitive values that lie untapped within their patent portfolios.  To borrow the euphemism popularized by Kevin Rivette and David Kline, it is like you have Rembrandt paintings lying dustily in the attic.

Balancing Market Monopoly and Public Interest  

The modern history of protecting one’s invention started in Venice in 1474. In the UK, the first piece of legislation which attempted to protect invention was The Statute of Monopolies, 1623. In its own archaic language, it allowed “patent monopolies” for 14 years upon “any manner of new manufacture”. Stripped of legal niceties, it merely meant that the State would grant a monopolistic right in the form of “letters patent” to the inventors.  As a trade-off, the inventors must disclose their inventions in a clear manner so that it can be used by a ‘person ordinarily skilled in the art’. The philosophy of protecting patent is pretty simple:  the State will grant a limited protection for any invention for a period of between 15 to 20 years in exchange of the full technical information related to it. Once the protection period has expired, the inventions are free to be exploited by anyone.  It is believed that with the required statutory protection given by the Government, inventors would be encouraged to engage in more inventive activities and come out with more novel inventions.  This will ultimately benefit the society at large as the innovative ideas as disclosed in the patents will add to the pool of existing technological knowledge in a particular field.  In this manner, society will progress in innovation and it will enjoy the fruits of the inventive members within it.


Photo by Lam Been Koon

Flash of Genius can be Present in Mundane Objects 

The image Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein or a mad scientist with fuzzy hair will immediately come to mind when we talk about invention.  This is of course a myth.  The reality is that not every invention needs to be Einstein-que or earth-shattering like the atomic bomb. On the contrary, a cursory search at Google Patent will show that many mundane objects have been or are still protected by patents. For instance, a gadget to boil eggs, the yellow “post-it” note and the ubiquitous paper clip are subject matters of granted patents. Indeed flash of genius can be present in many mundane objects.

The Requirements for Patenting a New Invention

In 1983, Malaysia has its own national patent legislation.  It is called the Patents Act, 1983.  It came into force on 1 October 1986. Before the passage of this legislation, we could only obtain patent protection by first registering a patent in the United Kingdom and then re-register it in the three component regions of Malaysia. With the passage of the 1983 Act, we could obtain a national patent by filing an application with our local patent office.

The most frequently asked question which an intellectual property law practitioner like me has encountered is: how do I get a patent?

The answer is to first get your invention written down clearly in a document which is commonly called “patent specification”.  However, before this is done, it is imperative that the invention must possess the following requirements:

  • the invention must be “new” in the sense that it has not been disclosed to the public anywhere in the world. The disclosure can be in the form of written publication, actual usage, actual article or even oral presentation or even sample shown in an exhibition;
  • the invention must involve “an inventive step”. The question whether an invention involves an “inventive step” can be asked in another manner: whether the so-called “inventive step” (i.e. the “inventive feature or element”) of the invention is obvious to a person who has ordinary skill or experience in the subject matter; and
  • the invention must be “industrially applicable”. This last requirement is normally easily satisfied as long as the invention can be commercially or industrially exploited. The rationale of this requirement clear, that is it is to prevent granting of patent for some theoretical invention which cannot be put into practical use.

In order for a patent to be valid, all the above three requirements must be present.  Anyone who has some experiences in patent litigations will inform you that most patent litigations are fought on the above three issues.  If a patent is proved to have been lacking in any of the above requirements, it can be cancelled or invalidated. Thus as a prudent measure, before an eager inventor spend enormous money in getting its patent specification drafted, it is advisable to ask the patent drafter to conduct the necessary “searches” to ensure that there are no other prior publications or disclosure which will nullify the invention.

Once the patent specification is properly drafted, the other steps of getting a patent granted are relatively straight-forward. The first step is to fill up the prescribed forms and then file them with the patent office.  You should of course consult a patent lawyer or agent for this important step.

The obtaining of a patent for any innovative breakthrough is an indispensable step to secure a cutting edge for achieving continuous growth of a business in this competitive environment.


* This article first appeared in “Focus” Magazine in 2018.

Breaking new ground: Court of Appeal rules that ‘first use’ principle is not applicable to disputes between related entities

By Teo Bong Kwang and Eugene Ee

The Malaysian Court of Appeal has recently decided that the courts are not bound by “hard and fast” legal principles when it comes to deciding on the proprietorship of a trademark among related entities.


In Pathmanathan v Portcullis (Singapore) Pte Ltd (Civil Appeal No W-02(IPCV)(W)-1798-09/2016), which concerned a dispute between different entities that were previously part of the Portcullis group of companies, the Court of Appeal was faced with the thorny issue of the proprietorship of a trade mark used within the group.

The corporate structure of the Portcullis group is rather elaborate:

  • the Portcullis companies in Malaysia – the third to twelfth appellants/defendants in this appeal were owned by Portcullis Holdings (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (‘PH’), the second appellant/defendant; and
  • the respondent, Portcullis (Singapore) Pte Ltd, and PH were both owned by Portcullis Holdings International Limited (‘PHIL’), which in turn was wholly owned by First Finance Holdings Ltd.

On 2 April 1998 a memorandum of agreement was signed by the first appellant/defendant, George Pathmanathan, and PHIL, whereby George was given 25% of the shares in PH. Sometime in 2006, George filed a minority oppression petition against PHIL, among others. The High Court ruled in George’s favour and ordered PHIL to transfer 75% of its shares remaining in PH to George. As a result, PH and the Portcullis Malaysian entities became wholly owned by George.

Subsequently, George filed two applications to register the PORTCULLIS marks in Malaysia. However, he was outdone by the respondent, Portcullis (Singapore), which managed to register twelve PORTCULLIS word and device or pictorial marks in various classes in Malaysia. Armed with the registrations, the respondent proceeded to sue the appellants for passing off, trade mark infringement and copyright infringement. The respondent contended that, when PH ceased to be part of the Portcullis group, its right to use the PORTCULLIS marks and logo also ceased.

In response, the appellants argued that the acquisition of PH by George was together with the goodwill and the other IP rights of the respective companies by virtue of the memorandum of agreement. Accordingly, the appellants led a counterclaim to expunge the twelve registered trade marks registered in the name of the Singaporean entity from the register.

In an extensive decision, the High Court ruled in favour of the Singaporean entity, based predominantly on the factual finding that it was the first user of the PORTCULLIS marks and logo in Malaysia.

Court of Appeal decision

At the appellate level, the Court of Appeal summarised the issue at hand in the following manner:

In the context of a corporate group, how is the issue of ownership of trade marks, corporate names and goodwill determined, including whether the principle of ‘first user’ is applicable when determining such ownership within a corporate group?

In answering this question, the court referred to the English Court of Appeal’s decision in Scandecor Development AB v Scandecor Marketing AB ((1998) EWCA Civ 1282). It held that, while the ‘first user’ principle is useful when determining any issue relating to the use of trade marks between unrelated competitors, such approach would not apply to cases involving related entities. If the court were to adopt the conventional approach, then the Singaporean entity would obviously prevail as it was the first user of the PORTCULLIS marks.

Instead, the court examined the facts of the dispute and highlighted one of the clauses in the memorandum of agreement, which provided that the goodwill and other IP rights shall vest in the respective Malaysian companies. Given that the ownership of PH was transferred to George, the goodwill in the PORTCULLIS marks and logo remained with the Malaysian entities. The High court’s decision was therefore overturned.


Interestingly, the Court of Appeal chose to deviate from a long line of cases – including the apex court’s decision in Mesuma Sports Sdn Bhd v Majlis Sukan Negara Malaysia ([2015] 6 MLJ 465), which held that proprietorship of a trade mark is established by first use of the mark within the country. In arriving at its conclusion that the Malaysian entities retained goodwill in the PORTCULLIS mark, the Court of Appeal placed great emphasis on a contractual provision in the memorandum of agreement. This raises the important question of whether contractual provisions on the alleged ownership of a trade mark should take precedence over the exclusive rights of a registered trade mark owner.

(This article first appeared in the 26 November 2018 issue of World Trademark Review  Used by permission.)





Photo by Lam Been Koon






  1. 我们希望原道堂能有更多先知型的领袖,牧者。他们有异象 (vision),有使命感。为教会搭脉,找出问题,也为教会的发展,前路提出前瞻的看法。
  2. 我们为牧者们能细心研究原道堂未来5年计划的的草案,提出宝贵的意见祷告。因为牧者需要认同,并推动之。
  3. 为每周负责讲道的牧者,一些长老执事祷告,求神让他们正确讲解神的话语。能将神活泼的话语,注入信徒的心中,影响他们的生命。与此相关的,我们求神赐给我们更多有恩赐的讲道人,能有效,正确,深入浅出的解释圣经经文。他们有清楚的信息,有效,effective 的传讲方式(这个我们当中许多牧者必须持续提升),以及信徒能将教导实践出来,换言之,能贴近信徒的生命。


我们教会相当缺乏“传道的人”,英文称为Evangelist。保罗把“传道者”放在第三位。肯定传道的人是非常重要。如果没有传道,基督教不会流传到今天。往往我们将许多时间花在事工策划,花在举办一些活动,甚至处理人事上,但是往往花在实实在在传福音的时间很少。我们甚少带人归主 (至少我承认这是我的亏欠),我们甚至没有人可以带领来教会的布道会。


  1. 求主帮助我们这些做领袖的,立定志向,一个月至少要花一定的时间来传福音。求神赐下传福音的志向与恩赐给自己。学习保罗所说,得时不得时,总要传福音。
  2. 求主兴起原道堂的Billy Graham,原道堂的唐崇荣。
  3. 求神让我们善用科技术,明了现代人的需求,有效的传完整的福音。


我把这两个职分合在一起。因为两者,pastor and teachers 基本的工作是牧养(shepherding, pastoring)的人。据我的观察(相信错误难免)现近许多牧者不太喜欢“牧养”,他们不喜欢与人打交道,探访更是缺乏。他们比较喜欢讲讲道,教教书。但是我个人认为必须重思或重拾牧养的职分。

我个人认为牧师的工作,有一个重要层面,是许多人无法做的,就是“牧灵” (spiritual care)。用上帝的话语来培养一个人的灵命。


  1. 求神让牧者真正有“牧灵”的恩赐,负担。学习适时地与会友同行,陪有需要的会友走一段路,用神的话语牧养他们。
  2. 让我们的牧者对神有大的信心,也有忠心。与神关系良好。清楚自己的使命与不忘初心,忠心,尽责的执行牧养的职分。有异象,智慧,与能力来带领教会。
  3. 求神赐给我们的牧者有健康的身体,灵命。与配偶有美好的关系,得到他/她的支持.
  4. 让我们的牧者对《圣经》的认识正确,理解体会与日俱增。
  5. 让我们的牧者持续学习,在行政,策划,牧养的实践,其他常识,学养上持续提升自己。
  6. 求神让牧者每周的讲道是实在,谨慎地传讲神的话语;带有能力,有内涵,及能更新人心的。求圣灵帮助我们的牧者,加添他们智慧能力,以便他们有信心来传讲神的话语。


《以弗所书》第4章第12节说,神设立四个职分,“是要装备圣徒,做事奉的工作,建立基督的身体。”(和合本修订版)以至于我们不会轻易被异教邪说所影响。换言之我们是成熟,稳定的基督徒。我们也能用爱心传讲真理,英文圣经比较翻译的较好:speaking the truth in love 。我个人认为从上下文来看,Truth应当是指“基督教真理”,而不只是“诚实话”。


  1. 求神保守我们教会的教导事工 (teaching ministry),包括成青主日学,主日讲道,儿童主日学,教育组的计划,讲座,团契,各个小组中的教导能正确,有深度,能有效的传承信仰。
  2. 求神兴起更多能够教导人的人。
  3. 求神让原道堂的每个信徒是个认真学习真道的人。


和合本修订版之《以弗所书》第4章第15节说,我们要用爱心“说诚实话”(照上面的讨论,可以理解为“讲论真理“),“各方面向着基督长进”。这句很好:因为我们各方面的长进,是朝向基督。基督是我们的榜样,我们向他学习,以他马首是瞻。最终是连结与他这位“元首” (或“头“ – head)。英文NRSV版《圣经》是说we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ。这个into有百川汇海的意味,最终我们都归于基督这个“大海”,融合了。


我们都知道,保罗用“身体“(body)这个意象(imagery )来代表教会。用身体这个意象,主要是要带出一个非常重要得信息:身体有不同的器官 (organs),各个器官必须是连结得甚为结实,牢靠,不会断落的。和合本修订版用了一个相当好的形容词:“接连得紧凑”。英文NRSV版《圣经》则 说每个器官是借着筋(ligament)连结,缝纫起来的(knit together by every ligament )。大家都吃过猪肉,牛肉,也吃过牛筋,知道牛筋是非常坚韧的。骨容易折断,但筋却不容易扯断。

保罗也说每个器官要“各按各职,照着各体的功能彼此相助“,英文说:each part is working properly ,那么身体(教会)就会增长,而且保罗也指出一个至关重要的真理: 这种的生长是在爱中进行的。或者更准确的说是:不是教会数量增长而已,更重要的是爱心日渐生长。 英文NRSV版《圣经》的表达方式较为清楚:We must grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.


  1. 祈求原道堂属下所有的教会中的弟兄姐妹有彼此相爱的关系,彼此连结的结实牢靠,而不是松散的(loosely)。
  2. 每个会友,信徒发挥他们的功能,一起建立教会,建立爱心。
  3. 保罗提醒我们不是建立一个教会而已,而是建立一个有爱的群体。
  4. 最终保罗的教会观,是信徒能在教会中,经历爱,经历爱的建立,building up in love。信徒必须越来越有爱心。求神将这个爱的团体赐给我们。爱是圣灵的果子,愿圣灵帮助我们爱神爱人。

注:以上是本人于2018年12月8日 (星期六),在吉隆坡教会早堂的祷告会中之分享与代祷事项。美丽的插图是蓝炳焜长老的摄影作品。在此谢谢他让我自由使用。

亦舒谈写作 (二)


亦舒的这本《写作这回事》 有许多自传式的资料,可以窥探到她的生活小事,喜好,以及对一些事物的想法。比如说曾经三年时光,亦舒的稿子都是在图书馆里写的。又比如说她喜欢用什么笔来写稿,用什么稿纸。

倪小姐也不吝分享写作是否靠天分,写作有哪些压力,写小说需不需要大纲 ,如何取书名等。 我也急不及待想听听她认为写作者必备的是哪些条件,先入为主地认为她定会说写作必须靠天赋,必须阅读过上万的名著经典。没想到她说写作必须有纪律,“必须谢绝应酬,不要再听电话,回复电邮,不宜时常接受访问等”。这些问题我都没有面对,但是仍旧不能成为畅销作家。


我们都羡慕多产作家的文思如泉涌不断,而凡人如我辈,往往对着空白的稿纸,或电脑荧幕,久坐仍不能挤出一个字,差点愤而上吊。但倪小姐说文思中断问题主要是“时间分配问题” ,“不可分心,这不是人笨刀钝的问题”(页172)。多么像Peter Drucker教导人如何管理公司,管理时间,处理事务。她宣告:“写作的首要条件是坐下来,写。作者若俗务缠身,四出奔走,大约不会有可能生产比较完整的作品。”(页173)

倪小姐不认为写作必须呕心沥血,”要写到夜半伏在床上痛哭的”。相反的,要愉快的写。如果要伏在床上痛苦流泪的写,那就不如转行。 “认识的作家不少,从来没有听说倪匡或西西说他们写得哭出来写作同其他工作一样,不宜爱理不理,嘻皮笑脸地干,我们要敬业乐业。却也不必为之落泪,写,不停地写,切忌有名与利的包袱,爱怎样写就怎样写,爱写什么题材就拿它来发挥。” (页179)




文: 张文光

经文:《以弗所书》6章1至4节 :“做儿女的,你们要在主里听从父母,这是理所当然的。当孝敬父母,使你得福,在世长寿。这是第一条带应许的诫命。做父亲的,你们不要激怒儿女,但要照着主的教导和劝戒养育他们。“(《圣经》和合本修订版)








此外,在同一篇的《学而篇》里,孔夫子也说:“弟子入则孝,出则弟,谨而信,泛爱众,而亲仁 。”

“弟子” 就是后生小子,这句话的意思是说,在父母跟前,或在家就当孝敬父母,离开自己的房子,便敬爱兄长,寡言少语,说则诚实可信,博爱大众,亲近与仁德的人 (参杨伯峻,《论语译注》,页9)。

Photo by Lam Been Koon


所谓古代近东(Near East)就是当今的中东一带。包括埃及,伊朗,伊拉克等国家。孝敬老者 (Elder),尤其是父母,是古代近东的普通教诲。而一般上,孝敬老者就包括以下:

  • 给老者尊荣与尊严(honour & dignity)
  • 给老者关怀与支持 (care & support)
  • 祭拜 先人(ancestral worship)不只是华人祭拜祖先,连中东人,如埃及人也有祭拜祖先的风俗。


我们都很熟悉《十诫》,因为每个月的第一个主日,我们都有背诵。第一个诫命是什么?你们会背吗?第一条是“除了我以外,你不可有别的神……“。 第二条诫命是”不可为自己雕刻偶像……“。第三是”不可妄称耶和华的名字“,第四是”当纪念安息日,守为圣日“ 。第五诫是什么?就是“当孝敬父母”。

一般上我们都认为这十条诫命是写在两个石版(stone tablet)上的。有人认为一个石版分别刻5条诫命;有的则认为一个石板刻4条,另外一个是6条(就如我Powerpoint里的图片所示)。英国All Nations Christian College的圣经研究讲师David L. Baker认为十诫分成爱神与爱人两大部分(参他的著作The Decalogue: Living as the People of God, Apollos, 2017)。这跟旧约《利未记》19章18节及《申命记》6章5节,以及新约耶稣所说的两大诫命(参《马太福音》22章34-40节,《马可福音》12章28-34节)是相符的。而十诫中第一到第五诫命是属于一组,这组是关系到“爱神“(Love God),其他的诫命则是关系到“爱人“。Baker把第五个诫命放在第一块石版,即“爱神”这边,意思是说,孝敬父母就是爱神的表现;如果你爱神,必定要孝敬父母。

Photo by Lam Been Koon

有人则说,孝敬父母应该是属于人伦,人与人的社会关系(social relations)这一块。就算我们把孝敬父母归属人伦关系这一块里,我们应当察觉,孝敬父母是人伦的第一诫命。因此,孝敬父母是一条非常的重大诫命。










《以弗所书》6:1-3:“作儿女的,你们要在主里 听从父母,这是理所当然的。当孝敬父母,使你得福,在世长寿。这是第一条带应许的诫命。” (和合本,修订版)

我们可以看到,在《以弗所书》6章1到3节,保罗把我们刚才读的《出埃及记 》20章12节和《申命记》5章16节联合起来了。或者说保罗引申这两段经文,而写出《以弗所书》6章1到3节。意思是一样的。



《以弗所书》6章1到4节是放在一个大段落内,这个大段落就是《以弗所书》5章21节到6章9节,一般上解经家称之为“家户经营“ (Household Code)。


罗马社会阶级森然,分明,有上层的统治者,精英分子,Aristocrat,下有奴隶,以及已经用钱赎回,获得自由的前奴隶,或称“自由人“(Freed man)。所以他们的关系可以分成两大组别:主人(Master)与从属的关系 (Subordinate)。我们看到保罗在”家户经营“这个段落,处理了主人与奴隶,夫妻,父母与儿女的关系。教导他们他们当如何相处。


保罗的“家户经营“原则有个非常基本的不同,他要这些掌权的上级与从属的人“要存敬畏基督的心,彼此顺服“ 。这可以在《以弗所书》5章21节清楚看到。无可否认,在当时而言, 这是一个非常颠覆性的思想。

其实在《以弗所书》2章13-18节,保罗已经说了,“基督是我们的和平,使双方合而为一,拆毁了中间隔绝的墙,而且以自己的身体终止了冤仇。“ 在《加拉太书》3章28节,保罗也说同样的道理。经文如此说:”你们凡受洗归入基督的都披戴基督了,不再分犹太人或希腊人,不再分为奴的自主的,不再分男的女的,因为你们在基督耶稣里都成为一了。”




“儿女”(ta tekna)强调的是关系,不是年龄。


“听从” – 儿女站在较卑微的辈分上顺从父母亲的权威和命令。

这段经文的语态是“主动语态”(present active imperative),因此听从父母必须是持续做的。

“在主里” – 意思是说符合耶稣的教导的。因此“听从父母”就是顺服基督的一部分。


而在旧约,孝敬 (kabod)有“给某人权力” 的意思。因此,孝敬父母就是授予父母崇高的地位。







刚才我提到了,保罗的“家户经营“原则是双向,彼此顺服的。因此在阐明了儿女的责任后,保罗在《以弗所书》6章第4节说道: “做父亲的,你们不要激怒儿女,但要照着主的教导和劝戒养育他们。



在消极方面,保罗提醒父亲不要“惹儿女的气”;这是旧的翻译,《圣经》和合本修订版翻译为:“不要激怒儿女“,什么是“激怒儿女”?解经家认为”激怒“的例子包括过分严厉的训练,苛刻的要求,滥用权力,偏袒,不停的挑剔和谴责,让儿女蒙羞,或忽视儿女的需要和感受的行为 (参Andrew Lincoln, Ephesians, Word Commentary, 406)。

“教导” — (paidea; discipline) 指的是一般性的教育活动和训练。

“劝诫” — (nouthesia; instruction)则是口头上的警戒。

“养育” – 就是抚养长大和教育。

“照着主的”(kyriou; of the Lord)而不是自己的意思而已。以敬畏基督的心来进行。






三,儿女必须照顾父母肉身的日常需要,给他们实际的关怀与支持(care and support)。






但是没有,她没有这么做,因为一旦是“母亲”,就被抛进“母亲” 的框框里,格子里,定位为必须成为龙应台的人生后盾,而后盾是在后面的,我们的眼睛是长在前面,因此注定一生看不到后面的母亲(参书,页20-21)。

Photo by Lam Been Koon




Photo by Lam Been Koon




龙应台在书中说到当年鼓励她去国外念书,而且帮她填了一大堆申请大学文件的外籍教授,她一直想去探望他,向他说声谢谢。但是因为公事忙碌,一再拖延,蹉跎。最后老教授弥留,她还是没有机会跟他说声谢谢。这成了她一生的遗憾。 她说:人生里有些事,就是不可蹉跎。生命就像黄昏的余光,瞬间没入黑暗里。




《诗篇》103篇13节 : “父亲怎样怜悯他的儿女,耶和华也怎样怜悯敬畏他的人!”

《以赛亚书》49章15节 : “妇人焉能忘记她吃奶的婴孩,不怜悯她所生的儿子?即或有忘记的,我却不忘记你。”



(注:这是本人在2018年5月13日在原道堂吉隆坡教会早堂(在Sri Gombak)的讲章;2018年5月14日星期一誊写。)

The Federal Court Sheds Light on the Inventive Step of an Invention


Light in Autumn

The apex court of Malaysia has recently delivered an important decision which touched on the key requirement of inventive step involved in an invention and how to determine such inventive step.

In Spind Malaysia Sdn Bhd v Justrade Marketing Sdn Bhd & Pang Cheng Hoon (Federal Court of Malaysia Civil Appeal No. 02(f)-55-08/2016(W)), the following three questions of law were referred to the FC:

1. Whether for the purpose of considering whether a patented invention is inventive (or not obvious), the court is required to apply and carry out the 4-steps test from the case of Windsurfing International Inc v Tabur Marine (Great Britain) Ltd [1985] RPC 59 (or more commonly known as the ‘Windsurfing test’)? (Question 1)

2. Whether there is a distinction to be drawn between determining the “claimed features” of the claims of a patent (for the purposes of assessing novelty and infringement) and determining the “inventive concepts” of the invention in the patent (for the purpose of assessing inventiveness)? (Question 2)

3. If the answer to Question 2 is in the affirmative, whether an assessment of the “inventive concepts” of the invention is to be confined to just the claims of the patent or should be construed from reading the patent specifications as a whole and with the common knowledge of the skilled person? (Question 3)

The appeal relates to a patent for an invention which is simply called a “floor trap” granted to the Appellant. The Appellant sued the Respondents for infringement of patent and the Respondents counterclaimed to invalidate the patent for lack of novelty and inventiveness. The Appellant’s claim was dismissed and the Respondents’ invalidation counterclaim was allowed by the High Court. The appeal to the Court of Appeal was also dismissed. Leave was subsequently granted by the FC for the 3 questions mentioned above to be answered.

In answering Question 1, the FC considered the Windsurfing test to be a good starting point for assessing inventiveness – describing the test as “a useful framework…[and which] provides some clarity of reasoning and consistency of approach”. However, it cautions that the individual steps should not be considered as being “set in stone and mechanically applied”. Ultimately, the question is simply whether the invention is obvious to the person having ordinary skill in the art, having regard to prior art. The 4-steps Windsurfing test was summarised to the following:

Step 1: Identify the inventive concept embodied in the patent.

Step 2: Assume the mantle of person having ordinary skill in the art, and impute to him the common general knowledge at that date.

Step 3: Identify the differences between the prior art and the alleged invention.

Step 4: Determine whether, viewed without any knowledge of the alleged invention, those differences constitute steps which would have been obvious to the person having ordinary skill in the art.

The FC described the test for Step 4 to be an objective test and a question of a fact and two types of evidence can be considered: –

  • primary evidence in the form of the opinions of expert witnesses; and
  • secondary in the form of contemporary events and commercial success of the alleged invention.

On the evidentiary value to be given to expert opinions, the FC viewed such evidence as “generally valuable and often necessary”. However, the ultimate question of fact, i.e. whether the step was obvious or not, must be determined by the court and the court is not bound to follow the expert’s opinion. This reaffirms the position taken by the FC in the earlier case of SKB Shutters Manufacturing Sdn Bhd v Seng Kong Shutter Industries Sdn Bhd & Anor [2015] 6 MLJ 293 (“SKB Shutters”).

As for secondary evidence, the FC held that such evidence is not in itself conclusive on the question of obviousness and care should be taken when conferring proper weight to such evidence. Question 1 was thus answered in the affirmative.

Question 2 and Question 3 were considered together. The FC declared that “[t]he starting point in patent litigation, whether to determine novelty, obviousness, or infringement, is… to ascertain the scope of the claims in a patent”. As such, the inventive concept of a patent must be identified from the claims. The FC further explained that “[i]t is the inventive concept that the patentee has put forward as underpinning his monopoly that must be identified”. Accordingly, inventive concept is to be distilled from the claims and not from the patent specification as a whole. It also follows that technical advantages of an invention which the patentee aimed to achieve, but are not included in the scope of the claims, do not constitute an inventive concept. The FC was however careful to point out that while inventive concept is to be determined from the claims, it is not to be equated with everything stated in the claims. Rather, inventive concept is the “essence of the idea” or “the core (or kernel, or essence) of the invention”.

Question 2 was thus answered in the following manner: in determining both the scope of the claims for assessing novelty and the inventive concept for assessing inventiveness, the court must look at the claims in the patent. However, the inventive concept is not one and the same as the claims; it is the core or essence of the invention. Question 3 was answered in the negative.

This recent Spind decision by the FC is important for patent litigation as it confirms the application of the Windsurfing test for determining whether an invention is inventive or not. The decision also explains how the inventive concept of a patent can be ascertained – from the claims. Patent drafters would also wish to take note of the court’s position in this regard. Based on this decision, it is imperative that patent drafters ensure that the “core (or kernel, or essence) of the invention”, i.e. the inventive concept, be specifically included in the claims of the patent.

(Contributed by Teo Bong Kwang & Ng Yueng May, Messrs. Wong Jin Nee & Teo, Kuala Lumpur, 29 March 2018. Used by permission)



Photo by Lam Been Koon
Photo by Lam Been Koon

前两天到我最爱的书局Kinokuniya去,本意是要买本Moleskin日记本给儿子;免不了去浏览令人垂涎,琳琅满目的书籍。结果就是两袋书,其中一本是丹尼尔·克莱恩(Daniel Klein) 的Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It (Oneworld, 2015年出版)。作者是位78岁的美国作家,写小说也写非小说 (non-fiction),包括与他人合写了一本畅销书,叫做《柏拉图与鸭嘴兽一块上酒吧》(Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar)。

据作者说,本书是他25岁开始收录的一些哲理短句(他称之为Pithies)的反思。每章卷首都有一段某位哲学家的短句,作者就借题发挥,加以扩充,评论。这本书没有提供当怎样过一种有意义的生命的想法,而是探讨不同的哲学思想,让读者自行决定那种想法才是好的。作者所收录的短句其实代表了不同学派或者是一些重要的哲学思想,主题,如自由意志 (Free Will),享乐主义(Hedonism),存在主义,萨特,休谟对生命意义的洞见,尼采的“超人”思想,悲观主义,理性主义,犬儒主义 (Cynicism),新无神论(New Atheism),不可知主义(Agnosticism), 朋友的好处,什么是爱,圣经《传道书》的智慧等。

Photo by Lam Been Koon
Photo by Lam Been Koon



在本书142页(我只能用页数,因为这本书没有目录,也没章题,章数),作者克莱恩引述了培根(Francis Bacon)的名言:“一点哲学引向无神主义,但是深邃哲学则带领人的心思到宗教”(原文作:A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion”)。作者自谦的说他可能没有资格评论,因为他无法探研哲学的深处,但是他还是能捉到这句名言的重点。他接着说:“亚里斯多德的名言:‘当你知道得越多,那你会发现你不知道的更多’,培根是从这个想法开展他的看法的。承认自己所知的有限,而更重要的是,我们能够知道的是那么少,真的是一种大开眼界的想法(a real eye opener)。但是这不能阻止我们想要知道的更多,或者至少保持一直探索的态度。对未知的追寻,肯定让我们心思倾向于寻求属灵事物(any wondering about the unknowable certainly inclineth a mind toward the spiritual)。

另外一章是谈到怀疑主义大师大卫·休谟(David Hume, 1711-1776)的那一句:“对宇宙来说,人的生命不比一只牡蛎来得重要”(The life of a man is of no greater importance to the universe than the at of an oyster)(参本书第81页)。 休谟认为人只是宇宙这个巨大机器中的一个小零件,渺小得没什么意义。但是作者认为我们可以用另一个角度来看这个牡蛎比喻。虽然我们的生命微小,但是可以有巨大的涟漪作用 (ripple effect)。他引用Frank Capra 的电影It is a Wonderful Life 来说明。主角George Bailey认为他对不起他的家人与社群而想在圣诞节前夕自杀,但是Bailey 的守护天使Clarence出现,让Bailey 看到如果没有他,整个社区将会不一样。

此外,克莱恩也引用英格玛·伯格曼(Ingmar Bergman)的电影 《芬妮与亚历山大》(Fanny and Alexander)中的一段对白,来带出这个信息:

“世界是一窝的强盗,黑夜经已降临;邪恶已经挣脱锁链,像疯狗般的横行世界。邪恶的毒素影响了我们每个人,无人幸免。因此让我们还能快乐的时候,继续快乐吧,让我们继续善良,慷慨,充满爱心,做个好人吧。我们无需感到羞耻,其实是必须,在我们微小的世界取乐吧。”(It is necessary and not at all shameful to take pleasure in the little world)(参页84-85)

17293170 - a photo of the full moon at night

从本书,我也学习到,思索本身就是一种的喜乐,而其重要性不亚于其他肉体感官好处。根据作者说这是英国哲学家罗素(Bertrand Russell)所强调的(参页58-60)。他引述罗素的说话:”The goods of the mind are at least as important as the goods of the body”。

书中有一章谈到友情的可贵,引述了美国哲学家爱默生(Ralph Waldo Emerson)的名言:“老朋友的其中一个好处,就是你能愚笨的与他们相处”(It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them)(页64),读后让我心有戚戚矣。

在宗教观念上,作者自称是一个不可知论者(Agnostic),但他对宗教仍然是非常尊重,且持开放的态度(参页145)。 所传达的仍然是一个积极的人生态度,在讨论叔本华的悲观主义那一章(页30-34),作者引用伍迪·亚伦(Woody Allen )的电影Hannah and Her Sisters 的男主角密奇(Mickey)在片尾的一段独白,来说明其实我们能从生命中的小乐趣,重拾对生命的喜悦感。而就是这些小乐趣,让我们在看来充满绝望的境况继续向前。正如王尔德(Oscar Wilde)所说:“我们每个人都身处阴沟,但当中有些人却看着满天星星。”(We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”)


书中有个相当精彩的后记 (Epilogue),讲到读者对本书的回响。他说读者们最大的回响是有关他的狗Snooker的一些记载。因此在后记他谈论了一些狗与哲学家的有趣逸事。我转述之,以飨我的读者。

古代希腊(约公元前4世纪)的哲学家第歐根尼(Diogenes)曾说:“狗与哲学家作了很多很大的好事,但是他们得到最少的报酬。”英文是这么说的:“Dogs and philosophers do the greatest good and get the fewest rewards” 。[我想很多人会把“哲学家”这词,换成他现在正在做的职业或工作]

Diogenes是希腊众多哲学派系中称为“Cynic”的,他也被称为Diogenes the Cynic。 而“Cynic”这个词是来自希腊文,意思是说“像只狗“(dog-like)。因为Diogenes生活举止活脱脱就像只狗。他说狗很自然,不做作;要吃东西就吃东西,要撒尿撒尿。狗只活在当下,不用为过去或未来烦恼。Diogenes 常赞赏推崇这种生活方式。一生据说说是住在一个木桶(亦说是装死人的瓮),所拥有的所有财产只包括这个木桶、一件斗篷、一支棍子、一个面包袋。他鄙视社会的虚伪,卫道之士。我们的仁兄也因此仿效狗狗,肆无忌惮的公开撒尿。中文把Cynic翻译为“犬儒”。嗯,还是第一次看到两者的联系。

不只是Diogenes从狗学到人生哲理,大哲学家柏拉图也说:“Your dog is a true philosopher” . 不相信,去翻阅《理想国》第二卷,当中苏格拉底与格劳孔(Glaucon) 有关“哲学王” (philosopher king) 当拥有的素质的对话。



社会秩序与超越意义 — 赵紫宸思想浅谈


Photo by Lam Been Koon
Photo by Lam Been Koon

好久没有阅读硬邦邦的神哲学文章了(最近几年多读些散文小说)。昨天filing 一些文件时,看到2007年的一些笔记,是关于20世纪中国基督教神学家赵紫宸的一些记录。看看原来是从北京哲学系教授孙尚扬的《宗教社会学》的附录文章载录出来的。孙尚扬的文章题名为〈在秩序与意义之间:赵紫宸的选择及其得失〉。笔记有些甚有意思的东西,但不是很完整,因此想把原文找出来再看一遍。翻找塞满书架上杂乱的书,非常高兴最终找到了。十几年没动,已经蒙上一层厚厚的灰尘。抹去灰尘,重新阅读这篇文章。读后获益良多。

孙尚扬认为基督教有“处身于世界,又不属于世界”的特性,因此既有关注今生,或者说现世的实际问题,比如说社会的改造的向度, 也有出世(超越)的向度。他把前者称为“秩序”,后者成为“意义”的层面。而文章主要是讨论赵紫宸(1888-1979)如何在上述两个取向之间,做出选择,而其得失何在。


Photo by Lam Been Koon
Photo by Lam Been Koon



赵紫宸对汉语基督教神学的建构,一直是孜孜以求;当一些中国基督徒认为基督教更多是一种生活方式,因此应该在生活中,而不是在理论上表现其生命力时,赵紫宸一方面表示赞同,另一方面又补充道,基督教是宣讲圣言的,这既需要用活生生的人格,也需要用理论来予以表达。 换言之,基督教作为生活方式需要得到解释。赵紫宸认为在十九,二十世纪之交的在华传教士,在思想领域做出了重要的贡献,一直到推翻满族统治的政治改革时期,他们对中国人的生活都产生过巨大的影响。但是,自那以后,中国的教会几乎不再思想对中国社会产生影响。 1938年前中国面对各种思潮的冲击,如人本思潮,实用主义,实验主义,自然主义,怀疑论等。当各种思想大行其道时,基督教却患上了失语症,“以致对中国人毫无价值可言”。(孙尚扬语,页284)根据孙尚扬的说法,赵紫宸因此疾呼当中国处于抗战救国的生死攸关之际,基督教应该力图在思想领域产生影响。它应该该宣讲自己的社会哲学,此外,教会应想法设法发现和开发它自己的思想家和思想领袖。(页284)






44868092 - open blank notebook over wooden table. ready for mockup. retro filtered image

坦白说亦舒小姐的小说,还没有完整地看完一本。当然听过她的《玫瑰的故事》,《喜宝》等。也略有所闻家明闲来就读《红楼梦》。 近来倪小姐(亦舒本姓倪,或当称倪阿姨,但想想自己也属大叔辈了,厚道点吧),出了一本叫做《写作这回事》的散文集 (香港,天地图书,2017年10月),让我心中好奇,这么一位多产的作家,肯定对写作有深切体会,或许字字珠玑。就如当年Stephen King 出了一本谈他的写作秘诀的《On Writing》,我还特别买了精装本,奉为圭臬。

横越两岸三地,东南亚,仍然屹立华人世界言情小说几十年不倒的她,出了一本谈写作的书,任何有意学习写作或有不敢说出来的野心想成为畅销作家的人,理当拜读。我这个出了几本堆积如山的书的人,于是急不及待去买了一本来读。果然不失所望,看了不时禁不住哈哈大笑, 倪小姐果然功力深厚,文字简练,能用两个字,就决不用三个字,但掷地有声,句句击中要害。倪小姐也永远那么尖刻,那么cynical;有香港人的世故(或练达),有现代都会女性的清醒。她说 “拙作中女主角绝少以恋爱为主,日常生活多数清苦,天天闻鸡起舞,听差办事,什么都靠自己双手。老实说,有选择的话,当然是做前辈小说中的女主角好,一天到晚披件紫色的风衣,依偎在男伴宽大的肩膀中,在微雨中诉衷情”。(页69)

Photo by Lam Been Koon
Photo by Lam Been Koon



林沛理说亦舒承续旧文学伤感传统,又紧扣现代都市现实 (参2006年12月10日《亚洲周刊》,页86)。的确,只有活在香港,一个中西汇合繁华都市的她,才能写出这种世故,甚至对爱情那么犬儒的都市流行文学。林氏也说,她的小说多是从女性的角度来写,如《喜宝》,《玫瑰的故事》,《我的前半生》都是写都市女性为了求生求存,不得不利用爱情,当作是一种求生手法的不幸遭遇。亦舒写爱情,但是她的爱情不是清纯的,往往有许多计算,有林沛理说的“城市人的猥琐的难堪”。她自己也说,写那些享福的太太不是她的喜好,“老读者知道我一直劝女子循正道多赚一点,才能理直气壮。”她绝对不写风花雪月,不食人间烟火的爱情。她在本书中的一句话深得我心也:“生活井井有条,才有资格去谈恋爱嘛。”(页231)林氏却说他的小说缺乏理智基础与哲学深度。我看要亦舒谈哲理,是强人所难吧,她的读者大概也不买账。亦舒的世界有的是一群男女,他们需要应付人情世故,开门七件事;绝多时候是讲述女主角在现实的生活里,如何将她们的男女爱欲与现实生存问题摆在自己认为是正确的地位。比较保守之人士,可能还不能接受她所提倡的一些功利值观观。






这本书其实有许多自传式的资料,可以窥探到亦舒的生活小事,喜好,以及对一些事物的想法。比如说曾经三年时光,稿子都是在图书馆里写的,她喜欢用什么笔来写稿,用什么稿纸;又比如说写作是否靠天分,写作有哪些压力,写小说需不需要大纲 ,如何取书名等。 她也提到写作者必备的一些条件,如必须有纪律,必须谢绝应酬,不要再听电话,回复电邮,不宜时常接受访问等。先做写作人,再来想做作家(参页132-133)。


她说文思中断问题主要是时间分配问题(页172),不可分心,这不是人笨刀钝的问题,“写作的首要条件是坐下来,写。作者若俗务缠身,四出奔走,大约不会有可能生产比较完整的作品。”(页173)也要愉快的写,她不相信写作,要写到夜半伏在床上痛哭的。如果是这样,那就不如转行。 “认识的作家不少,从来没有听说倪匡或西西说他们写得哭出来写作同其他工作一样,不宜爱理不理,嘻皮笑脸地干,我们要敬业乐业。却也不必为之落泪,写,不停地写,切忌有名与利的包袱,爱怎样写就怎样写,爱写什么题材就拿它来发挥。” (页179)




Photo by Lam Been Koon
Photo by Lam Been Koon

这两三年来一直都在听60,70年代的老歌;邓丽君,尤雅,姚苏蓉,刘家昌,费玉清,万沙浪,甄妮等人的歌曲,百听不厌。每次到大众书局,都会去找这些封套设计老土的CD。上几个月几乎把邓丽君在丽风时代的唱片都收集了。一些老歌对我来说是新歌,第一次听,觉得蛮开心的。邓丽君已经成了经典,那不必说。一些不是太出名的歌手的歌,曲调简单,歌词有的简直就是小学程度,但不知道是因为经过岁月的浸润,听起来,还是让人心旷神怡,紧张情绪顿时松懈下来;是有解压的功效。不瞒你说,我还相当喜欢杨小萍的歌声:粗犷,一副风尘中人的唱腔,特别有韵味。想找她的个人专辑,但找了好久,不见踪影。她的歌曲只能在收集了10几个歌星的杂锦CD找到。上个星期与友人在Sunway Pyramid,吃了午餐后,一如往常到大众书局浏览书籍CD,看到一个四张CD 包装的“回顾旧时情”,里面收集不少杨小萍的歌,兴奋买下。其中有一 首叫作《空》,上一次听它大概是三四十年前的事。惊喜的是这首还有日语的一段。

IMG_3993人说情歌总是老的好,而且越老越有韵味。听了令人神往年少那种较纯朴简单的岁月。邓丽君在70-80年代众多歌星中,绝对是Diva,天后。她就像座巍巍的高山,甚少人能超越。她唱了许多经典名曲,其中大家较熟悉的,离不开她中期的《月亮代表我的心》,《何日君再来 》,《甜蜜蜜》等。但我喜欢的,是邓丽君较早期的《我怎能离开你》。可惜她事业如日中天时,没有从新翻唱这首琼瑶填词,古月作曲的优美歌曲。现在能听到的是电影《彩云飞》内的版本,总觉得配乐不是那么典雅;而那时邓的唱腔也没像《何日君再来》那般纯净圆润。

人家说如果你喜欢听老歌,证明你的确是老了。我是非常喜欢老歌,我也年过半百啊 ,so what?