January 20 2004.

A Patents Bill has just been published by the Government. The Bill provides a more supportive framework, particularly for small businesses, to enforce patent rights and ensure that UK patent law continues to underpin and promote innovation.

The Bill includes measures which would help those trying to resolve disputes over patent rights, and provisions to ensure compliance with international commitments that help UK businesses.

The Patents Bill would enable the Patent Office to provide an independent non-binding opinion on patent validity or infringement to settle disputes over patent rights without parties having to resort to litigation; bring UK patent law into line with the revised European Patent Convention and make it simpler for UK businesses to operate across Europe; modernise UK patent law to be more responsive to customers needs by for example, allowing the Patent Office to make amendments to application forms without amending regulations; and modify existing protection for alleged infringers to encourage out-of-court settlement of disputes whilst still deterring patent owners from making unreasonable allegations of infringement.

More information from www.dti.gov.uk