This Kat admits that puzzling over the implications of difficult leading cases is intellectually
stimulating, but sometimes exhausting. Today’s decision of the Court of Appeal in Apimed
Medical Honey Ltd v Brightwake Ltd  EWCA Civ 5 is refreshingly straightforward. While Kitchin LJ, writing for the Court of Appeal, overruled Judge Fysh QC  EWPCC 2,
who had held the patent invalid for obviousness, there is no general principle at issue.
|The formula for honey as a wound dressing?|
However, as the Kitchin LJ emphasized, despite the similarity in composition, calcium alginate and sodium-calcium alginate are not gelling agents. They are fibrous felts, like cotton. They are insoluble in honey, and do not cause the honey to gel or become more viscous. Instead the honey is retained in the interstices of the felt material. Sodium alginate, in contrast, dissolves into the honey and causes its viscosity to increase. There was some debate as to whether it forms a true gel, but it does in any event allow the honey / alginate compound to be formed into sheets and applied to the wound. Consequently, as Kitchin J explained
Kitchin J held that the failure to correctly identify the differences between the prior art and the invention was an error of principle, and he went on to conclude that the claims at issue were not obvious.
As a postscript, the defendant Brightwake had prevailed at trial on the issue of infringement, and Apimed appealed solely to establish the validity of its patent. In accordance with the guidance given in Halliburton Energy Services Inc v Smith International (North Sea) Ltd  EWCA Civ 185, the Comptroller appeared to present the counter-arguments to Apimed’s appeal.
It appears from the facts that most honey, including supermarket honey, does have some degree of anti-microbial effect, but if you want to try this at home, make sure that the honey has not been pasteurized, which destroys the effective enzymes - and that there aren't too many ants around.