The British Patent Office and the Department of Trade and Industry began consultations on proposals for inclusion in a Patents Act Bill. The provisions would relate to new mechanisms for obtaining non-binding opinions on validity and infringement of patents. General provisions will be introduced to enable the Patent Office to perform post-grant re-examination, in order to encourage settlements and avoid full-scale litigation. Similarly, in the case of infringement, the Patent Office will be able to give a non-binding opinion. A request for such opinion can be brought forward by any interested or non-interested party, patentee included. The Court of Appeal has recently stated that patentees cannot use the claims of their patents against alleged infringers as mere guidelines, to gain wider protection.
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