Patent disputes in the UK are dealt with by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO), the body responsible for the administration of intellectual property rights in the UK.
If you wish to claim that one of your patents has been infringed, commencing a claim is, in principle, quite straightforward. You simply download a form from the Internet (Patents form 2) and pay a fee of £50. The completed form is then returned to the UKIPO.
The form must show the subject matter of the claim, the facts you are using to support your claim for infringement and the remedy you seek. This is signed and accompanied by a statement of truth.
The claim is sent to the person against whom it is made and they have six weeks to dispute it and file a ‘counter-statement’. The counter-statement sets out any allegations that are admitted; any allegations that are denied and why; and any that are neither admitted nor denied, but which the other side is required to prove. Any facts in the statement of claim on which the counter-statement is silent are assumed to be accepted. The counter-statement is also signed, together with a statement of truth. Failure to lodge a counter-statement will be taken as acceptance of the claim.
The UKIPO will review the evidence and consider the best way of resolving the dispute, which may be by mediation or court proceedings, and set a timetable for resolution of the matter.
The next step is the presentation by each party of the evidence on which they rely to support their statements and to contest the other party’s statement. This is called the ‘evidence round’.
The evidence round is followed by the opportunity to present your case to the hearing officer, who will issue a ruling within two months. The costs are settled on a ‘loser pays’ basis, but the loser’s contribution is limited.
The loser can appeal against the decision within 28 days.
It is important in such cases to have expert advice at each stage, as the way the process works means that it is important to make sure that the claim is properly construed at the beginning.
Download the guide to the UKIPO patent disputes process.