Cranway Ltd v Playtech Ltd

United Kingdom

This article was produced by Olswang LLP, which joined with CMS on 1 May 2017.

In the recent case of Cranway Ltd v Playtech Ltd and others [2009] EWHC 1588 (Pat), 7 July 2009, the High Court held that a patent for a system of online gaming was invalid as being anticipated by and obvious over a prior art system.

Cranway claimed that their patent for online gambling had been infringed by Playtech and the Tote (Playtech supplied the Tote with the client-side software needed for the Tote's online gaming system). Playtech and the Tote denied infringement and argued that Cranway's patent was invalid as the invention was not new, nor obvious and that it was not in fact an invention. The Court agreed with the defendants and held that Cranway's on-line gambling patent was invalid on the grounds of lack of novelty and obviousness, and also was not patentable.

The court also dealt with contributory infringement in the situation where there is a supply chain (see s60(2) of the Patents Act 1977). The court held that if the patent had been valid, it would have been infringed by some of the defendants but the original supplier of the software would not be liable for direct infringement. It was held that in such a situation only the person who directly supplies another with the means for putting the invention into effect could be liable for contributory infringement because of the subjective element of intention. Lewison J also set out his thoughts regarding implied disclosure.