Thursday, 26 August 2010

Impact of weblog on number of opponents: a form of abuse?

A practitioner acting for one of a number of opponents challenging a business method-type patent before the EPO has drawn the attention of PatLit to the fact that the proprietor's response contains an observation that opposition to its patent has been encouraged by a weblog, Schemaworks. According to the proprietor's response, this constitutes an abuse which also entitles to the proprietor to an award of costs based upon it. According to the response,
19 notices of oppositions have been filed naming 29 parties. It is believed that the large number of oppositions is due to a blog created by one Mikkel Hippe Brun which can be seen at

For example, the blog has EPO Form 2300 available as a download to enable opponents to launch oppositions.

Whilst it is accepted that any person may give notice of opposition under Art. 99 EPC, it is submitted that setting up a blog to inundate the proprietor with oppositions is an abusive process which puts the proprietor as a relatively small company at a significant disadvantage. The proprietor requests that the Opposition Division bear this in mind during the opposition procedure, particularly with regard to requests for extension of time and an award of costs, if deemed appropriate.
While the large number of oppositions (19) and opponents (29) may well have been swollen by virtue of the blog, it is difficult to see how the use of a blog to support an opposition, whether by the opponent himself or by an interested third party, should make any difference to the outcome. The criteria of patentability, and of invalidity, remain unchanged and any patent that is granted without fulfilling them is vulnerable to an action for revocation at any time throughout its life. One might expect the use of blogs therefore to enhance the grant of quality patents.


Anonymous said...

This is one of the good self-regulating features of the opposition system, and it is surprising that it has taken so long for the anti-patent groups to realise that these are the rules of the game, and that they are there for a purpose.

But do not be surprised if the system defends itself against what it considers undue interference by increasing the opposition fees to ridiculous amounts - it has happened before, after intense lobbying from the affected industry.

Kind regards

George Brock-Nannestad

Anonymous said...

Looking closer at the case I realise that I had been too quick off the mark in my prior comment: this is not the activity of a group of anti-patent people but of a group of competitors. The self-regulating effect is the same, but the political issue is different. If the arguments are good, it shall be an exciting struggle to watch.

Kind regards,

George Brock-Nannestad

Anonymous said...

I agree with your observations Jeremy.

Nice punt by the patent attorneys but completely pointless expense. Schemaworks do not appear to be a "party" to the proceedings, so they have a free ride as to costs. Having said that there does appear to be a straw woman opponent. Who is behind her I wonder?

I can just see the Opposition Division reading the letter looking at one another and simply shrugging their shoulders in that oh so EPO way!