Nic Ferrar, Patent Attorney at Adamson Jones, comments on the growing importance for design protection and why UK businesses should take note.
Obtaining a patent gives a company a monopoly in the patented invention, and the right to prevent competition. That inevitably results in a higher price. Although the patent system is intended to benefit the public by encouraging innovation, in the short term there may quite literally be a high price to pay and this often leads to questions about the value of the patent system.
A patent application often describes how an invention differs from what has been done before, and sometimes sets out the key attributes that differentiate the invention from that prior art. When the application is examined, the applicant often goes further and in the arguments it presents to the patent office identifies features of the invention that it says are significant or critical.
In the recent decision, T1665/16, the Boards of Appeal discussed the ability of a third party to intervene at the appeal stage and, in doing so, introduce new prior art documents into the proceedings that would be inadmissible if they had been filed by an opponent already party to the proceedings.