How the Intellectual Property Act 2014 changes British Patent Law

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The most important Part of the Intellectual Property Act 2014 is Part II which contains provisions that amend the Patents Act 1977 and the most important of those amendments is s.17 which will insert a new s.88A into the 1977 Act giving the Secretary of State power to make rules to implement the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court. This Court, a section of which will sit in London, will have jurisdiction over validity and infringement of all European patents. Its formation will enable a unitary patent (that is to say, a European patent for nearly all the member states of the EU) to come into effect. That will result in massive savings for British business in obtaining and enforcing patents for their inventions in Europe.

Also important are provisions that will enable the UK Intellectual Property Office to share information about patent applications with foreign patent offices thereby removing one of the excuses for delay in processing patent applications.

A service by which parties to a dispute over whether a patent is valid or whether it has been infringed can obtain a non-binding opinion from a patent examiner has already been in operation for nearly 10 years and has proved very popular. However, there have been calls to extend the range of matters upon which an opinion can be sought, extending it to supplementary protection certificates (certificates that extend the monopoly for certain classes of inventions) and for the Comptroller to have power to revoke patents that examiners believe to be invalid. The Act gives the Secretary of State power to make regulations that extend the range of topics upon which opinions can be obtained, extends the service to supplementary protection certificates and gives the Comptroller power to revoke invalid patents.

Although not strictly a patent matter, the Act inserts a new section into the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to exempt information about ongoing research from disclosure under a freedom of information request.

Finally the Act tidies up a number of provisions in the 1977 Act which were thought to give rise to uncertainty or ambiguity including one glaring typo.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Jane Lambert, NIPC | Attorney Advertising

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