Poway, CA asked in Patents (Intellectual Property) for California

Q: Are Patents issued in the UK restricted to the UK or do they cover all of the EU? What is the life of a patent?

What happens if patent holders allow other competing products on the market that conflict with an existing patent(s)? How many years can thes competitive products be allowed on the market before the Patent becomes unenforceable?

1 Lawyer Answer
Kevin E. Flynn
Kevin E. Flynn
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Chapel Hill, NC

A: A UK patent is a UK patent. There is not yet an EU patent. You can get your patent application examined by the European Patent Office so you only have to do that work once, but the allowed EPO claims are then validated in individual EPO countries such as the UK. So one patent application may end up with several identical patents in different EPO countries. (EPO predated the EU and has many overlapping countries with the EU but the country lists are not identical)

You would need to talk to someone who litigates UK patents to find out the standard for laches or estoppel which would be the defense raised in the US against someone that allowed others to infringe a US patent for a prolonged period. It is not a good idea to assume that every US legal theory works in other countries.

I hope that this helps.

Kevin E Flynn

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