The ability to question the validity of a granted patent can be an important consideration for clients who feel their competitors’ patents could provide an unjustified scope of protection. The validity of UK national patents can be challenged at the UKIPO and before the UK courts by way of revocation proceedings. The European patent system however includes a post-grant opposition procedure by which the grant of European patents can be challenged centrally at the EPO within a period of nine months from the date of grant. Third parties can therefore oppose the European patent and can seek either to have the patent revoked outright or to be amended in such a way so as to no longer represent a commercial problem. The possibility of central attack at the EPO has the advantage that the outcome of the opposition will affect the patent in all of the countries it covers.
The EPO opposition procedure is an efficient and cost-effective tool for attacking a granted European patent. It is therefore important to maximise the potential effect of the procedure.
European Patent Attorneys within the patent team at WP Thompson have extensive and well-developed experience in conducting EPO opposition proceedings across all technical fields. We have extensive knowledge of pursuing, and defending oppositions both before the Opposition Divisions of the EPO, and the Boards of Appeal.
It is quite often the case that an opposition will represent just one part of a wider commercial dispute. The proactive and flexible approach adopted by WP Thompson is readily integrated into our clients' wider commercial strategy.