One of the provisions in the Patents Act 2004 intended to assist individual inventors and patentees is s.13. This section provides for a senior hearing officer to determine whether a patent is valid and/or whether it has been infringed upon a reference by any interested party for the very modest fee of £200. It is a type of ADR and I think it could be as useful a tool to inventors as the UDRP is to brand owners.
This new procedure comes into force on 1 Oct 2005 by virtue of The Patents Act 2004 (Commencement No. 3 and Transitional Provisions) Order 2005. The Patent Office has a new "Commencement" page on the topic with links to guidance notes and other information explaining the procedure. Applications will be made on a new form which is not yet on the Patent Office website supported but which should be up later this week with a supporting statement. The procedure is intended to be user friendly so it may not always be necessary to instruct counsel, patent agents or solicitors, but, even where professional assistance is advisable, it ought not to cost very much.
I have already had my first enquiries about settling (barrister talk for "preparing") supporting statements one of which is likely to turn into firm instructions later in the week. I will keep you all posted. Finally, for those who want to learn more. Peter Hayward of the Patent Office and Ian Lewis of Miller Insurance will be speaking on the topic at BPP Law School in Leeds on 24 Nov 2005 at 18:00. Admission is free upon application to Jonathan Haines Tel +44 (0) 845 678 6868, The school can only accommodate 150 in the lecture theatre and tickets will be allocated first come, first served.