1. INFRINGEMENT OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS (IPRs)
The downside of establishing a commercially viable product in the market place is that the company’s competitors will try to emulate the company’s success by any means, foul or otherwise, that leads to an inevitable erosion of the company’s market position.
When an SME, viz. a Small to Medium sized Enterprise, is faced with this type of problem, it is often the case that the necessary actions to redress the situation, by way of initiating legal proceedings in the Chancery Division of the High Court, or in the Patents County Court, are too costly for them to enter an action for infringement of their IPRs.
2. MEDIATION SERVICES FROM THE UK-IPO
Some years ago the UK Patent Office established a Mediation Service, which, although it has not been over used, did provide several adversaries with a way forward in that the issues between the parties were resolved during a one day hearing at the Patent Office. The fee charged by the Patent Office was set at a very modest £1000.00 for each of the protagonists.
Currently, the Mediation Service is under review by the Patent Office. This is to bring it into line with recommendations made in the Review of Intellectual Property conducted by Professor Ian Hargreaves at the behest of Her Majesty’s Government.
3. OPINION SERVICES FROM THE UK-IPO
In addition to their Mediation Services, the UK Patent Office also provides Opinions on the questions of:
a) ‘Infringement’ of a UK Patent; and/or,
b) the ‘Validity’ of a UK Patent.
The Opinion service is also under review at the present time in order to make it more user friendly, especially for lone Patentees and/or SMEs who find it very difficult to deal with the day to day business of managing a small one man business or a small to medium sized enterprise in the face of blatant infringement of their IPRs that inevitably result in the erosion of their hard-worked-for market share.
Requests for Opinions may be made under Section 74(A) of the Patents Act 1977 and upon payment of a fee of £200.00.
4. IPO ADVICE & INFORMATION ON THEIR MEDIATION & OPINION SERVICES
The Patent Office web site at has pages dedicated to the format for entering their Mediation Service and/or for filing a Request for an Infringement and/or a Validity Opinion.
5. OTHER SOURCES OF ADVICE AND INFORMATION
The British Library is an excellent source of Advice and Information especially for setting up a business and protecting the IPRs created in connection with the business.
The BL is at 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB – Tel: 10937 546060.
There is a specialised Business & IP Centre where help and assistance is provided to innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Currently there is an initiative, promoted by the UK-IPO in conjunction with the BL, to establish regional facilities within other libraries throughout the UK.
*John Grant is Senior Patent Attorney at Trevor Baylis Brands (TBB) plc. TBB has provided advice to thousands of individuals and companies on the best way to develop their business and protect their intellectual property. Building Enterprise (BE) Ltd is a new development from TBB offering a one-stop shop for innovation development, helping to take initial ideas through to a successful commercial outcome.*
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