Whilst it is nearly always better to avoid litigation than to seek it out, there are often occasions when an impartial view of a dispute can be invaluable. The UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) offers a nonbinding Opinion service, which can weigh up the arguments for and against infringement and/or validity of a British patent (whether granted by the UK IPO or the European Patent Office).
Although the Opinion is not binding on the courts in any subsequent proceedings, it allows a patentee or potential infringer to assess the strength of its position quickly and at relatively low cost. From filing the Opinion request to issuance of the Opinion takes only 3 months.
We have used the IPO Opinion procedure in a number of cases to achieve a speedy resolution to commercial disputes without our clients becoming entangled in lengthy and potentially expensive litigation. In appropriate cases, it can avoid court action altogether.
There are, of course, other options available in cases of dispute, and we are able to advise on a case by case basis to ensure the best outcome for our clients.