Friday, 17 July 2009

Are non-binding Opinions a useful tool in patent litigation?

It's a while since I last browsed the UK Intellectual Property Office's Requests for opinions page, which lists the patents in respect of which, for a very moderate fee, an informed opinion has been procured as to (i) the patent's validity and (ii) whether specific activities appear to infringe it. These opinions are non-binding but, at their point of introduction, I argued that they could be particularly useful for any party contemplating litigation.

Although we have not yet seen out July, the number of requests for Opinions this year is 23, which suggests that it will be the busiest year yet for the Comptroller's services (between 2006 and 2008 the annual total of requests ranged from 27 to 30). More significantly, both among those who seek requests and among those whose patents are their subjects, the names of some businesses that are notably active in the field of patent litigation can be seen.

PatLit would be pleased to hear from readers who deploy Opinions preparatory to litigation, or who have thought about doing so and then decided not to. Also, it would be good to hear from readers outside the UK as to whether any comparable service is offered in their jurisdictions. Do please let me know by posting a comment below or by emailing me here.

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