The Rolls Building
7 Rolls Buildings
London EC4A 1NL.
B e f o r e :
| MASTERMAILER STATIONERY LIMITED
|- and -
|(1) EVERSEAL STATIONERY PRODUCTS LIMITED
(2) ROBERT ANDREW GOOCH
1st Floor, Quality House, 6-9 Quality Court
Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1HP
Telephone No: 020 7067 2900.
DX 410 LDE firstname.lastname@example.org
MR. R. DEACON (instructed by Jennings IP) for the Defendants.
Crown Copyright ©
HIS HONOUR JUDGE BIRSS:
The person skilled in the art
Common general knowledge
"13. To the best of my knowledge, mailers first emerged in the 1970s/1980s with the spread of the computer and computer printer in offices. Early printers were sprocket fed with continuous lengths of fan-folded, perforated paper. Business forms manufacturers and other engineering type companies (i.e PFE/Neopost referred to above) developed machines that could take the output of these printers and then "burst" (separate) the forms to individual sheets. Many of these forms would ultimately be inserted individually into conventional envelopes for posting. Similarly, with the development of pressure seal and pressure sensitive adhesives, forms could be mailed without the use of an envelope. Some manufacturers sold these machines together with fan-folded business forms.
14. Early mailer technology changed with the spread of laser printers able to print on an individual A4 sheets. Business forms manufacturers responded with single sheet 'pressure seal' mailers made from laser printer paper. Pressure seal adhesive is dry and non-tacky to the touch but will seal strongly to itself (a 'contact' adhesive) if two opposing layers are placed under high pressure. The seal produced by a pressure seal adhesive at pressure is so strong that it is practically impossible to re-separate bonded layers of paper without damage to the paper. In the industry this is known as 'fibre tear'. This has always been a standard measure of good bond strength in sealable mailers.
15 The advantage of pressure seal mailers was that they could be run through laser printers like any other sheet of paper. The disadvantage was that they needed an expensive machine to generate the high pressures needed to seal them.
16. From memory, Paragon Business Forms Limited was the first company to start selling pressure-seal mailers in the UK in the late 1980s/early 1990s. When I moved to Laser Image Limited in 1988 ort 1989, Bowater was in the process of developing its own pressure-seal mailing system. One of our main tasks at Laser Image was to run trials of various paper and adhesive types, alone and in combination, as part of this development.
17. Following the rise of the pressure-seal mailer, in the 1990s 'pressure sensitive' mailers began to become popular as well. A pressure sensitive mailer incorporates a pressure sensitive adhesive strip covered by a protector (usually made of silicone paper). Pressure sensitive adhesive is what is known as "live" adhesive. It is tacky to the touch, does not generally set and will remain usable for a long period of time (assuming it is not contaminated). This type of mailer was capable of being passed through a printer in order to be filled in. In order to seal it, the protector is peeled off, the form is folded and then the adhesive can be pressed by hand directly against an opposing paper surface to seal the mailer. The same system is used in envelopes today. The seal produced by a 'live' pressure sensitive adhesive at low pressure is also strong enough to make it very difficult to re-separate the bonded layers without causing fibre tear.
18. The advantage of pressure sensitive mailers is that they could be sealed manually. The disadvantage was the need to remove the protective paper strip, which becomes time consuming if one has a batch of mailers to seal.
19. In 1998 I would estimate that pressure seal mailers [had] about 70% of the mailer market, pressure sensitive mailers about 20% (although this share was growing). The remainder was made up mostly of "re-moist" mailers and heat sealable mailers. Re-moist mailers incorporated wettable adhesive which would dry to an opposing paper layer to form a bond, i.e. basic envelope and postage stamp technology. The adhesive on heat sealable mailers looked very similar to re-moist mailers, but the adhesive was activated by the application of heat through a special machine. "
"22. I have been asked specifically whether mailers incorporating 'anti-tamper slits' or 'tamper evident slits' were common general knowledge in July 1998. 'Anti-tamper slits' are slits cut into the adhesive bearing paper of a mailer in order to create a line of weakness. The purpose of such slits is to ensure that if anyone tries to re-open a sealed mailer the paper will tear. This prevents a mailer being re-opened and re-sealed without this being evident.
23. Mastermailer started using anti-tamper slits in or around 2007 to give their mailers added security. Before this I had not seen any other products on the market in the UK that did so. For this reason I do not think that anti-tamper slits formed part of the common general knowledge at or before the priority date of the Patent. As I have mentioned above, the vast majority of mailers on the market at this time was made up of pressure seal and pressure sensitive mailers. Anti-tamper slits were not used on such mailers because the adhesives used made it very difficult to re-open them without causing damage to the unmodified paper."
"This invention relates to business forms with adhesive closures and to the manufacture thereof. Use is particularly envisaged in relation to sealable mailers; ie, forms or letters which have at least one printable region and which are to be folded after printing or other appropriate mode of completion and sealed in a folded condition by means of one or more adhesive regions provided on the form, so as to be suitable for sending by post or in some other manner in which it should remain sealed in the folded condition. The form may have e.g. a standard letter text with one or more printable fields for printing of selected data; (e.g. address, name, file, reference data) or a printed form layout or grid for completion with specific data by printer, typing or by hand."
A form or mailer as proposed is in practice a dry seal form or mailer that can be sealed by hand without requiring the use of a sealing machine. Sealing machines are expensive, typically being engineered to exert pressures in the range of 20-60 MPa (3,000-8000 lb/in2) as required by the conventional dry-seal contact adhesives. Thus, the present proposals open the way, for example, to small-scale use of direct mail by organisations who, for one reason or another, cannot run a sealing machine. The proposal also opens the way to fold, seal and return response forms, which can easily be used by the ordinary recipient without the need to wet an adhesive strip – a common source of discontent. [p 2 ln18, to p3 ln5]
"What we now propose is a new and useful business form or mailer of the type described above, which uses as the or each adhesive region, a non-tacky layer of a dry self-sealing contact adhesive which self-seals irreversibly to an opposed adhesive layer of the same kind, when the form has been folded to its folded condition, under a sealing pressure applied on that region which is finger pressure or alternatively stated, a pressure of 500kPa or less or 300kPa or less, but preferably at leatst 10kPa." (Page 2, lines 7-16)
"The reference above to an irreversible self seal is to be interpreted as meaning that subsequent re-separation of the layers results in disruption of the adhesive structure, also in the base material." (Page 3 lines 6-10)
A characteristic of the present one-piece mailer is the nature of the adhesive layer 50 on the adhesive border 3. The adhesive 50 is selected and applied as an essentially tack-free layer - which will therefore not stick to opposed paper services, eg. if the forms are stacked – which will self adhere on contact with another part of the adhesive region 3 under finger pressure only. The present example uses a nature rubber latex adhesive stabilised with ammonia. In our work we used L516/4 adhesive supplied by Sealock. When applied as a sufficiently thin layer, this adhesive is essentially tack free.
After printing or writing of the relevant fields, the one-piece mailer invoice is used by folding the sheet in half about the centre line 18 to superimpose the opposed C-lines of the adhesive region 3. These are then pressed together using finger pressure, which creates an irreversible adhesive bond on contact. The printer-driver strips 6 are then torn away by means of the outer perforation, line 62, and discarded so that the mailer can be sent out. It acts as its own envelope concealing the data on the invoice in the known manner. The recipient of the completed document can open it by tearing away the adhesive side strips 5 and end strips 4 by means of the inner-perforation lines 52.
A business form with an adhesive closure having one or more adhesive regions for holding the form in a folded condition, characterised by the use on the adhesive region of a non-tacky layer of a dry self-sealing contact adhesive, which in the folded condition self-seals irreversibly to an opposed adhesive region, also carrying a said contact adhesive, the adhesive being selected to self-seal irreversibly under a pressure of 500 kPa or less.
Are tamper-evident slits included?
Mode 1: "The sample is intact after peeling and can be resealed."
Mode 2: "The sample is intact after peeling but cannot be resealed."
Mode 3: "The sample tears during peeling and cannot be resealed."
Everseal's first experiment conducted by Mr Palmer on 22nd October 2012
Mode 1: No adhesive film disruption.
Mode 2: Adhesive film disruption (adhesive film to adhesive film failure)
Mode 3: Adhesive removal from substrate
Mode 4: Paper tearing (substrate failure).
The experts' opinions.
"I think that the skilled person would understand 'disruption of the base material' in this context to mean fibre tear. As I have explained, this was a well-known practical measure of bond strength in the industry at the time."
"Between about 1998 and 2002, while at Laser Image, I developed a fifth type of mailer for Stephen Black, the eventual founder of Mastermailer. This type of mailer used dry, non-tacky contact adhesive but could, nevertheless, be sealed manually; ie, combined the best features of both pressure seal and pressure-sensitive mailers. Mastermailer started selling this product in around 2002. In fact, I moved from Laser Image to Mastermailer to oversee its manufacture."
Mr Palmer's evidence
Does the Mastermailer mailer infringe?