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Oppositions to European Patents

European patents are supposed to be granted for inventions which comply with certain requirements; for example, they have to be novel and involve an inventive step, and the application has to disclose the invention sufficiently clearly and completely for the skilled person to be able to carry it out, without undue burden, throughout the scope of the claims. It is a question of quid pro quo.

That is the theory. In practice however, as we all know, patents are often granted for obvious inventions, or for inventions that have not been sufficiently disclosed. There is a lot of covetous claiming out there, and patent applications are often filed as part of a “land-rush” strategy. Sometimes applicants simply get more than they deserve. Sometimes, the extent of the granted monopoly is just not commensurate with the inventor’s contribution to the art. Sometimes, part of what is claimed may be inventive, but other parts of the scope of the patent may relate to minor improvements or modifications of known technology, improvements or modifications of the kind that anybody with some skill in the art would have made as part of his or her daily trade.

Filing an opposition (within nine months from publication of the grant of the European patent) to have the patent revoked centrally, for all the designated states, can be a cost-effective alternative to national litigation, country by country.

However, oppositions still involve substantial costs. They often require many hours of professional work, for example, for retrieving and reviewing prior art not considered during examination of the application. Also, they require experience: experience to “see through the façade” of the patent and detect its weaknesses. Patents are often granted in error, maybe because a clever patent attorney managed to convince an examiner about alleged merits of the claimed subject-matter. Our task, when acting for the opponent, is to find the crack and make it visible.

At BALDER, we combine a competitive hourly rate with expertise on opposition proceedings. We will be more than pleased to assist you. If you want to get a European patent revoked and if you are still within the nine-month time limit to file an opposition, do not hesitate to contact us. We will look at the case and provide you with a proposal on how to act. Of course: always tailored to your specific needs!

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