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Paris 1st Instance Court - ERLA TECHNOLOGIES v/ PETRO TEC and SNCF

Date de la décision


N° de la décision

RG 09/13000

Type de jurisprudence





Paris 1st Instance Court



The French railroad company SNCF was represented by Caroline Casalonga, Lawyer, assisted by Axel Casalonga, Patent Attorney. The decision revokes the patent which was opposed against SNCF and decides that the SNCF committed no unfair competition act.

The company ERLA owns the French patent 01 14962, which relates to a fuel distribution system to avoid having to move locomotives, railcars and other railway vehicles compared to dock distribution operations during refueling .

The company ERLA assigned the company PETROTEC before the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris on the grounds that the installation of a fueling station installed by PETROTEC on the SNCF website constitutes infringement claims 1-5 of his patent.

The SNCF intervened in the case as a user of the facility and filed to the courts documents showing that during 1999, the SNCF has made an offer for the replacement of a service station for locomotives containing the same characteristics as those claimed in the ERLA patent, and has established a descriptive note at a date prior to the filing date of the ERLA patent

This description mentions "a dispensing device particularly for filling gazoil locomotives whatever their position with respect to the distribution platform, comprising a supporting structure one or more rails on which run the carriages supporting hoses each equipped with a dispensing gun."

Neither the description nor the claims of French patent 01 14962 include more features than those contained in this description so there is a full disclosure of claim 1 of French patent 01 14962 .

It is not disputed that the descriptive note was sent to all the candidates who responded to the offer so that the invention of claim 1 of the French patent 01 14962 has been disclosed prior to the filing of the patent. The patent must be revoked.

Unfair Competition

The company ERLA further contends that the company PETRO TEC and the SNCF committed acts of unfair competition by obtaining and using a command including the expertise of a directly competing company in a particularly narrow market

However, the Court recalls that unfair competition must be assessed in the light of the principle of free trade which involves that a product that is not the subject of intellectual property rights, may be freely reproduced under certain conditions relating to the absence of fault by creating a likelihood of confusion in the mind of the customer on the product’s origin, circumstances detrimental to the peaceful enjoyment and fair trade.

The assessment of fault in relation to the likelihood of confusion must result in a concrete and detailed approach to the facts of the case, taking into account in particular the systematic or repetitive character of the reproduction or imitation, the seniority of use, originality, and famous of character of the product copied.

Parasitism is made when a natural or legal person, for profit and unjustifiably copy an economic value of a third party which is, individual and provides a competitive advantage, resulting from a know-how, and intellectual work and investments.

In this case, the court considers that the confidentiality of information which would have been provided to the SNCF has not been established so that it cannot be criticized for any disclosure or communication to any third parties by way of any description.

The claim of ERLA TECHNOLOGIES on unfair competition and parasitism is dismissed.


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