An opposition at the European Patent Office (EPO) is the only way to challenge the validity of a European patent centrally. Philip Thomas and Tony Proctor look at why it's a better option than national proceedings.
EPO oppositions are vastly cheaper than invalidity proceedings in each national court. In approximately 50 percent of cases, an opponent achieves success in the form of complete revocation or significant limitation of the patent. Oppositions represent an important tool for dealing with any European patent of a competitor that might pose a threat to commercial activities in Europe.
A European patent, once granted, begins a process of validation in each contracting state designated upon filing. At the end of this process, the patent holder is left with a separate national patent in each country. As a result, any challenge to the validly of the granted patent in the courts must be made on a country-by-country basis. However, the opposition procedure at the EPO provides an opportunity to challenge validity centrally for all 36 designated states.
Approximately 5 percent of all European patents are opposed, although this varies depending on the particular area of technology to which the patent relates.
To continue reading, you need a subscription to WIPR. Start a subscription to WIPR for £455.
In-house feature articles, the archive and expert comment require a paid subscription. Subscribe now.
Want to give it a try? We are offering a two week free trial to the WIPR website – register and select “Free Trial” to begin access to the full WIPR archive and read the latest news, features and expert comment. Begin your free trial here.
Is your 2 week free trial about to end? Upgrade to a 12 month subscription for £455 now.
If you have already subscribed please login.
If you have any technical issues please email James Lynn on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Europe, EPO, litigation, patents, opposition