Patent decision

BL number
Concerning rights in
Hearing Officer
Mr B Buchanan
Decision date
28 September 2022
Person(s) or Company(s) involved
Harvey Water Softeners Limited
Provisions discussed
Patents Act 1977, sections 1(1)(b), 1(2)(b), 3
Excluded fields (allowed), Inventive step
Related Decisions


The application relates to a compressed salt block to be used in conjunction with a water softener apparatus, to soften water through ion exchange. The claims defined a salt block having a shape characterised by an extension portion. The Examiner had objected to the resultant shape lacking an inventive step and thus consisting of an aesthetic creation as such. The Applicant argued that the salt block provided benefits to handling and dissolution regardless of whether or not it was inserted in any suitable water softener. The Hearing Officer noted that the description only included reference to advantages when in use in a specific compatible water softener. Instead of deciding the matter on the claims as they stood, the Hearing Officer invited the Applicant to reinstate features of the claims relating to the described advantages when in use. The Applicant agreed and the Hearing Officer gave an Oral Decision following reasoning under Pozzoli and Aerotel which he found enabled the purpose of the features giving rise to non-obvious and technical benefits to be readily construed. The requirements of section 1(1)(b), 3 and 1(2)(b) were thus satisfied subject to formal amendment. The Applicant was invited to submit amendments within two weeks, and the application remitted to the Examiner for re-examination.

Full decision O/835/22 PDF document380Kb