UK IPOwer: Office may revoke a patent of its own initiative

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From 1 October 2014, the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) has the power to revoke a patent of its own initiative.

The UK IPO already provided a patent opinion service whereby anyone, upon payment of a fee (currently £200), can request an opinion on whether a UK patent (or a UK designation of a European patent) is valid. The opinion is non-binding but it can be a useful tool for resolving disputes without the need for litigation.

Previously, if the UK IPO opinion found that a patent was invalid, it was then up to the third party to institute revocation proceedings. The change from 1 October is that the UK IPO now has the ability to revoke patents, of its own initiative, for lack of novelty or inventive step. This is a potentially powerful tool.

The UK IPO has indicated that it will only revoke a patent in clear-cut cases, although it remains to be seen what “clear-cut” will mean in practice. For the patent holder, there is the opportunity to apply for a review of the opinion before any revocation action is commenced. If revocation does go ahead, the patent holder will be able to appeal to the courts.

If you have any questions relating to the UK IPO’s new patent powers, please feel free to contact us.