case / 06 Jul 2023

Electric rock drilling rigs did not infringe patent

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Setterwalls has recently successfully represented a company in the mining industry in a patent dispute regarding battery-powered rock drilling rigs. The Patent and Market Court (PMC) declared the counterparty’s patent partially invalid and ruled that the client’s rock drilling rigs did not infringe.

The contested rock drilling rigs are technologically advanced, heavy machinery used for blast hole drilling in underground mining and tunnelling. Fully electric, battery powered powertrains allow them to move between mine workstations without emissions.

The patent holder’s infringement claim concerned the software controlling the battery charging of the rock drilling rigs. The patent holder submitted that the patent covered all charging that occur during rock drilling, while Setterwalls’ client argued a considerably narrower scope of protection.

The patent holder filed a lawsuit in December 2021 presenting, among other things, claims for an injunction under penalty of a fine, orders for withdrawal of products from the market, and determination of liability for alleged patent infringement. Setterwalls’ client contested the infringement claim and brought an action for the patent to be invalidated in Sweden due to, among other things, lack of novelty and lack of inventive step.

During the preparatory proceedings, the patent holder presented interim claims, which were contested by Setterwalls’ client and subsequently rejected by PMC.

The main hearing lasted nine days during April and May 2023. PMC issued a judgment on June 29, 2023.
In its judgment, PMC declared that the patent lacked novelty and maintained the patent in substantially limited form in accordance with the patent holder’s third request for amendment.

The patent holder’s infringement allegations were directed at two different types of software for controlling battery charging in the drill rigs. PMC agreed with Setterwalls’ interpretation of the patent’s scope of protection and ruled that neither of the disputed software solutions was covered by the patent’s now limited scope of protection. Consequently, the court declared that the client’s rock drilling rigs did not infringe the patent.

(See PMC ruling of 29 June 2023 in Case No. PMT 19457-21 and 3157-22)

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