Perhaps showing the future of restaurants in times of social distancing, defendant Xuansu Company (炫速公司) implemented a restaurant meal delivery system to deliver food to customers using rails from kitchen to customers’ tables thereby avoiding the need for any interaction between customers and restaurant staff. However, unfortunately for Xuansu, according to the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court , the installed system infringed Chinese patent no. 101282669B and therefore awarded the exclusive licensee, Yunxiao Company (云霄公司), 1 million RMB.
The plaintiff argued that the spiral track system installed in the SpaceLab Weightless Restaurant (Space lab失重餐厅) infringed its licensed patent and requested an injunction as well as 8 million RMB. The defendant countered it was not infringing and used existing technology.
The Court held “Claims 1, 8, 20, 27, 58, and 59 of the patent in question include “the conveyor system transports meals and / or beverages from the back kitchen work area to the customer dining area”, auxiliary transportation devices, rail lines and customer dining areas. The infringing system has all the limitations of the claims including at least one connected dining table, a circular track, and an ordering system, and therefore falls within the scope of protection of the plaintiff ’s patent rights.”
With respect to the defendant’s existing technology defense, the defendant claimed US Patent No. 2216357 was prior art. The Shanghai Intellectual Property Court held that the patent publication date was October 1, 1940, which was earlier than the filing date of the patent in question, and it was prior art relative to the patent in question. After comparing the accused infringing technical solution with the prior patent, the Court found that the prior patent does not disclose the technical structure of the parallel track in the accused infringing technical solution, the circular carousel for transferring food to the table, and the guide assembly of the auxiliary conveying device. There are certain differences in the technical structure of the defendant’s system, so the defendant’s defense based on the existing technology cannot be established.