Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Improving intellectual property dispute resolution

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 Government is committed to providing SMEs with the economic environment and framework they need to grow. The Hargreaves Review identified a number of barriers facing SMEs trying to making the most of their Intellectual Property. One of these was the cost of managing IP, in particular resolving disputes surrounding the enforcement of their own IP rights and defending themselves against allegations of infringement made by others.

Minister for Intellectual Property 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.
The 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.

Notes to editors

1. The Patent Opinions Service consultation will run for 12 weeks and conclude on 4 September 2012.

2. 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.

3. The Mediation Service call for evidence will run for six weeks and close on 24 July 2012.

4. Comments on the call for evidence can be submitted by email to or by post to: Business Support Policy Team, Room 3R35, The Intellectual Property Office, Concept House, Cardiff Road, Newport, NP10 8QQ.

5. The Government's broad policy on these issues was set out in its
response to the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth.

6. The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and is responsible for the national framework of Intellectual Property rights, comprising patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.

7. The IPO's role is to help manage an IP system that encourages innovation and creativity, balances the needs of consumers and users, promotes strong and competitive markets and is the foundation of the knowledge-based economy.

8. The IPO operates in a national and an international environment and its work is governed by national and international law, including various international treaties relating to Intellectual Property (IP) to which the United Kingdom is a party.

9. BIS's online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See for more information.

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