Market competitors' efforts to obtain rights of joint use constitute further secondary indicia closely related to commercial success. They may result in a positive decision on inventive step, but need not necessarily do so. In T 351/93 the board stated that the latter applied particularly where a technical and expert assessment of the invention in the light of the prior art led, according to the problem-solution approach, to the conclusion that the existence of inventive step had to be denied.
The case was slightly different in T 812/92 - the situation might arise where, shortly before the filing date of the contested patent, one of the patent proprietor's competitors offered a customer a technical apparatus without reducing to practice the advantageous technical solution according to the invention. This might be an indication that an inventive step was involved.
In T 252/06 the board confirmed the presence of inventive step inter alia on the grounds that the proprietor's competitors had used the patent's teaching and had filed applications relating to it.