A niche blog dedicated to the issues that arise when supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) extend patents beyond their normal life -- and to the respective positions of patent owners, investors, competitors and consumers. The blog also addresses wider issues that may be of interest or use to those involved in the extension of patent rights. You can email The SPC Blog here

Friday 22 June 2012

UK asks: should IPO Opinions service cover SPCs?

Last week the UK's Intellectual Property Office announced a consultation on plans to expand its excellent and badly under-used (and non-binding) Patent Opinions service. Surprisingly, this consultation was aimed at the SPC community too.  The proposals are rolled in together with proposals for the SME-directed Mediation Service, which is a little confusing, not least because only half as much time has been allocated for consultation on mediations.  Anyway, according to the information available:
"The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) ... set out proposals to expand its Patent Opinions Service and is seeking views from business on how to improve its Mediation Service.

The Government is committed to providing SMEs with the economic environment and framework they need to grow. The Hargreaves Review identified a number of barriers facing SMEs trying to making the most of their Intellectual Property. One of these was the cost of managing IP, in particular resolving disputes surrounding the enforcement of their own IP rights and defending themselves against allegations of infringement made by others.

...  The IPO’s Patent Opinions Service allows individuals or companies to request an opinion on the validity or infringement of a patent and is well used. A review of this service demonstrated a high desire from users for expansion of the service to aid resolution of further patent disputes. Government is now consulting on the following proposal:
  • expanding the questions relating to patent validity that can be the subject of an opinion; 
  • expanding the service to offer opinions as to whether a Supplementary Protection Certificate ('SPC') is valid or is infringed; 
  • giving the IPO the power to consider revoking a patent following issue of an opinion which concludes it is invalid.
The IPO provides a Mediation Service to any parties involved in an IP dispute who wish to resolve matters without resorting to the Courts. However, uptake of this service is low and the IPO is therefore seeking comments and supporting evidence from key stakeholders and IP right holders on the reasons for this. This will be used to determine what service, if any, the IPO should be offering to support speedier and lower cost dispute resolution".
The Patent Opinions Service consultation will run for 12 weeks and concludes on 4 September 2012. Please send your comments here.

Thank you, John Miles (Potter Clarkson), for the link.

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