Friday, May 20, 2005

UK PATENT OFFICE MULLS ARBITRATION PROGRAM AS ALTERNATIVE TO LITIGATION: The UK Patent Office yesterday launched a consultation on its proposals to implement new powers, granted under the recent Patents Act, which will allow it to give non-binding opinions on patent validity and infringement.

This new service is intended to help parties test the strength of their arguments at the Patent Office before (or instead of) resorting to expensive litigation. It is hoped that such a service will encourage parties to settle their dispute promptly.

“By giving non-binding opinions on validity and infringement, the Office will be able to play a new and helpful role in resolving disputes over patents,” said Ron Marchant, Chief Executive of the Patent Office.

“It’s important that we hear from users how they think the new service should operate in detail. This will help us ensure that it fully achieves its aims – and so provides a quick, accessible and balanced procedure for assessing the key issues in a dispute over validity or infringement," he added.

- This is a great idea, and is worth a second look. But aside from validity issues (i.e., reexamination) this type of arrangement may be impossible to set up in the USPTO for infringement. Do YOU want to pay for experts, fees, discovery (albeit limited), only to end up with a non-binding opinion? I don't know many people that would . . .

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