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Improving intellectual property dispute resolution

13 June 2012

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has set out proposals to expand its Patent Opinions Service and is seeking views from business on how to improve its Mediation Service. The Hargreaves Review identified a number of barriers facing SMEs trying to make the most of their IP. One of these was the cost of managing it, in particular resolving disputes surrounding the enforcement of IP rights and defending against allegations of infringement made by others.

Intellectual property minister, Baroness Wilcox said: “As users of the Patent Opinions or Mediation Services, this is your chance to let us know how we can better meet your needs. Your input will have a direct effect on how these services are improved to help you resolve intellectual property disputes quickly and in a cost-effective way.”

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.

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.
Comments on the consultation can be submitted by email to or by post to: Patent Opinions Consultation, The Intellectual Property Office, Room 3R35, Concept House, Cardiff Road, Newport, NP10 8QQ.

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