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Patents in the Europe and the UK: Strategies to drive competition

By Nick Reeve and Paul Loustalan


Technology rarely stands still and new technologies rarely exist in isolation: as technology convergence carries on at pace, understanding the pitfalls and the benefits of different patent systems can give you a competitive edge. In this article, we discuss the UK's performance in areas of cutting-edge technology related to the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), the key points of the European and UK routes to patent protection, and relevant aspects of the UK courts.

Technology Convergence: a more connected future

From the minute that a new innovation is made, entrepreneurs and developers seek new uses for the underlying technology. In the telecommunications field, traditional telephones have evolved into mobile phones, camera phones, and finally smart phones – powerful portable computers a million times faster than the computers that NASA used to put a man on the moon in 1969. Recently, the deployment of 5G wireless technology has meant that complex connected systems, such as the Internet of Things, are now possible, and that the patent standards underpinning telecommunication technologies will now have a bearing on new and previously unrelated areas of industry and commerce. Of particular interest is the automotive sector, in which connected self-driving cars powered by the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence will soon communicate with each other and with centralised control systems using 5G wireless technology. The UK has a long history of making excellent contributions in this area, and we expect the UK market to continue to be of considerable importance in this more connected future.

UK Innovation (Automotive and Artificial Intelligence)

The UK Government's recent Industrial Strategy paper set out four areas of focus, referred to as Grand Challenges, for which it intends to make funding available and drive innovation. Significantly, within this grand plan, two areas of focus are "Future Mobility" and "Artificial Intelligence and Data".

For the former challenge, the UK has a long and illustrious history of innovation in the automotive field, including developments of the internal combustion engine, the compression ignition engine, and the hydrogen fuel cell. The Future Mobility Grand Challenge aims to continue this tradition by making available almost £250 million for battery R&D, as well as £1 billion to invest in low carbon powertrains. Both form part of the government's "Road to Zero: Next steps towards cleaner road transport" – a plan of nearly £1.5 billion earmarked for investment.

Research and development activity in the mobility field continues apace. The Silverstone Technology Cluster, which is part of a super cluster of 3500 companies in the arc between Oxford, Silverstone and Cambridge, has recently attracted interest, as it promises to bring the talent and research capabilities of the world's top two universities together with local world-class motorsport companies. The generation of key IP rights, secured both in the UK market and overseas appears inevitable, as collaboration between innovators leads to world class development in technology.

For the second challenge, Artificial Intelligence and Data, the UK offers a long tradition of excellence. The UK's hi-tech super-clusters based in and around London and Cambridge are frequently ranked as the largest groupings of start-up technology companies in Europe, and a recent paper by the UK IPO (United Kingdom Intellectual Property office) highlights the UK's recent success stories, including start-ups such as Deepmind, Magic Pony Technology and Swiftkey (acquired by big names such as Google, Twitter and Microsoft respectively).

The UK IPO paper points out that the UK is in the top three countries worldwide in which AI related patent applications, as a proportion of total patent applications filed, has risen most quickly (the others being the US and Australia), and that nearly 90% of first filed UK patent applications for AI innovations are filed overseas (a much larger percentage than for applications first filed in US or China for example).

The UK and European Patent Systems

Innovators have access to patent protection either nationally via the UK IPO or centrally via a European patent application filed at the EPO (European Patent Office) and designating the UK.

For companies based in the UK, first filing a patent application at the UK IPO offers low cost entry into the patent system and a quick high quality examination and search, before deciding whether to file applications overseas. Indeed, some US applicants have been known to file in the UK as soon as a US provisional application has been filed at the USPTO, solely to benefit from the UK's swift combined search and examination procedure.

Official Fees at the UK IPO are low. Official filing, search and examination fees presently cost no more than £320, including discounts available for electronic filing. Claims over 25 incur a small fee per claim, and description pages over 35 incur a small additional examination fee, but generally no further official fees due. Even renewal fees are only due after the grant of the patent, with the first fee being due on the fourth anniversary of the filing date.

The higher search, examination, designation and grant fees of the EPO reflect the wider geographical coverage offered by a European patent, as well as the EPO's considerable investment in both quality of service for applicants, and its state-of-the-art patent information systems. For European applications, renewal fees are payable in respect of each year after the third. Nevertheless, once translation and local attorney costs are factored in, the breakeven point for filing a European Application is usually reached if three or more applications in national countries are desired.

In cases where a client's budget does not stretch to filing a full European application, filing a national UK patent application is a cost effective way of securing protection in the European market. The UK is the second largest economy in Europe in terms of nominal GDP. For applications not originally filed in English, and for which an English translation of the application already exists for filing at the US PTO, protection in the UK can easily be added.

Different Routes – Different Strategies

Patent protection in the UK is available via both the national UK route, and by the designation of the UK in a granted European patent. This will continue whether or not the UK leaves the European Union, as will the ability of UK patent attorneys to file European applications. The EPO is not a European Union institution, and many non-EU states, such as Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway currently participate in the European Patent Organisation. UK based patent attorneys frequently achieve the highest pass rates in the European Patent Attorney qualifying exams, and so are well placed to act for applicants worldwide.

For UK based applicants, the UK application filed initially is often kept in force as a parallel pending application, even when protection (in the UK and other EPO participating countries) is pursued via a European patent application. This allows the applicant to take advantage of procedural benefits present in the UK system, such as the lack of an EPO style Opposition procedure, a potentially more pro-applicant stance, and the fact that the UK patent application can sometimes reach grant more quickly than the corresponding application at the EPO.

The UK applies a similar standard to examination as the EPO, but is less formal in its approach, and as a result, can appear more pro-patentee. The European Patent Office stresses patent quality, including the related burden of a granted patent on third parties, and so takes questions of unclear or overly broad claims, added subject matter, and weak inventive step arguments very seriously. While these considerations apply in the UK also, the UK IPO may give more benefit of the doubt to the applicant if a well-reasoned argument is put forward.

Combined Search and Examination is available at the UKIPO and means that for applications filed within 12 months of the priority date, the applicant receives an assessment on patentability before publication. Assuming this is favourable, the examination report can advantageously be used as the basis for a request under the Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH) in other countries. Otherwise, accelerated examination at the UK IPO is possible, providing that a reason can be given, such as knowledge of an infringing act, or the application relating to environmentally friendly subject matter. The GPPH is also available in the UK and can be used to advance cases that have already been found allowable in other jurisdictions. No official fees are required for acceleration. Accelerated examination in the EPO is also available at any time using the PACE procedure.

While Japanese applicants would not be likely to first file in the UK, the advantages noted above can be obtained by filing a UK application instead of or in addition to a corresponding European Patent application covering the UK. As noted above, assuming that an English translation of the patent application exists already (for filing at the USPTO or the EPO for example) patent protection can be pursued at the UK IPO at relatively low cost.

This can be helpful if licensing or access to the UK courts is desired without delay. Furthermore, it may be possible to direct the UK application to a different embodiment of the invention compared with the claims pursued in the corresponding European application designating the UK, thereby broadening out an applicant's portfolio.


The UK Courts (FRAND, Doctrine of Equivalence, Statistics)

Against this backdrop of technological innovation it is not surprising that the UK Courts have developed an international reputation for delivering high quality decisions on complex matters of technology and law. Recently this has been particularly significant for Standard Essential Patents, where decisions such as Unwired Planet v. Huawei have built on the FRAND (Fair Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) provisions set out in European decision such as Huawei v ZTE and have now shaped the FRAND negotiation procedure used worldwide. Patentees holding a UK patent are in the enviable position of being able to apply to the expertise of the UK Courts for various forms of declaratory relief, including injunctions, damages, declarations of infringement or non-infringement, as well as declarations that offers are FRAND offers, and orders to settle the terms of a FRAND license.

One of the key outcomes of the Unwired Planet v Huawei cases in the UK was the determination that the UK courts are competent to decide a global licensing rate. Huawei as defendant had argued that any FRAND license should be limited to the UK only, but the UK Courts both at First Instance and later at the Court of Appeal stage disagreed, arguing that licensing on a country by country basis between a willing licensee and a willing licensor was 'madness', and that accordingly the UK court was competent to decide the global rate. This principle has since been separately confirmed in the 2019 Court of Appeal decision Conversant v Huawei , in which the defendants unsuccessfully challenged the jurisdiction of the UK Court to hear the case on the ground that ongoing litigation in China made the Chinese courts more appropriate.

The pragmatism of the UK courts has also been clearly evident in its approach to patent litigation, namely its tendency to consider infringement and validity at the same time, relying on what is known as a purposive (rather than literal) approach to claim construction. Recently, and via the Supreme Court decision in the Actavis v Eli Lilly , this approach has been extended further by the introduction of a UK Doctrine of Equivalents. This brings the UK more into line with practice in Europe, and makes the UK more pro-patentee, as it provides an additional scope of protection outside of the literal or purposive wording of the claims. In 2018, the Court of Appeal decision Icescape v Ice World decision, applied the Doctrine of Equivalents to find infringement in mobile ice rink technology. The alleged infringement possessed cooling pipes arranged "in parallel" and the patent claim required them "in series". However, the inventive core of the patent was held to be the flexible pipe coupling used between the connections, such that despite this difference, infringement was found.

There is a view that the UK experiences less patent litigation than some European countries, that the relative value of those cases is typically higher than cases in other countries, and that the UK is sometimes stricter on matters such as patent validity and infringement. This does not however accurately reflect reality. The number of patents decisions in the UK (including decisions of the Intellectual Property and Enterprise Court – a streamlined court offering capped damages and reduced costs) can appear to be lower than in other jurisdictions, because the UK does not have a bifurcated system where patent infringement and patent validity hearings are separate and so count as separate decisions. Additionally, and with a view to procedural efficiency, the UK will often bundle related patents with the same parties into a single hearing lasting several days. The UK courts regard this as the best way to balance efficiency with fairness for all parties, hoping to reach decisions that accurately reflect the circumstances of the case. As a result, the number of actual cases may be higher than first appears.

Further, based on recent analysis of the court decisions, the UK courts now uphold more patent claims as valid, and find infringement in around 50% of the cases that they hear. This figure likely reflects the tendency for cases that are clearly in one party's favour to settle before court, meaning that most of the cases that the courts hear are borderline in which neither party has a strong advantage.


One of the advantages that the UK and European systems offer to applicants is flexibility. Different countries offer different approaches to patent prosecution and to patent enforcement. Both the UK and EP (UK) routes to protection may benefit an applicant depending on their circumstances, provide different pros and cons. Whichever route to protection you choose, Reddie & Grose LLP has the expertise to help.

ヨーロッパとイギリスの特許 ―競争促進戦略―

Nick Reeve、Paul Loustalan著


技術の統合 -よりつながった未来-



イギリス政府の先の産業戦略レポートでは、グランドチャレンジ と呼ばれる4つの重要分野が示され、同政府はこれら分野に財政支援を行ってイノベーションを促進することを計画している。興味深いことにこの大計画の中で「未来の移動性」と「人工知能とデータ」の2つが重要分野とされている。

前者の課題については、イギリスには自動車産業における輝かしいイノベーションの歴史があり、これには内燃エンジン、圧縮点火エンジン、そして水素燃料セルの開発が含まれる。未来の移動性グランドチャレンジではこの伝統を守ろうと、電池の研究開発におよそ2.5臆ポンドを資金提供し、さらに低炭素パワートレインに10臆ポンドを投資することが計画されている。いずれも、約15億ポンドの投資予算が計上されている同政府の「ゼロ化への道 -よりクリーンな道路交通に向けた次なる一歩-」という計画の一部を成している。

移動性分野の研究開発の取り組みは高スピードで進んでいる。オックスフォード、シルバーストーンそしてケンブリッジをつなぐ円弧状地域には3500社の企業からなる広域クラスターがあるが、その一社The Silverstone Technology Clusterは最近、世界トップクラスの地元モータースポーツ企業と共に、世界トップの2大学の人材と研究能力を提供できると請け合って先日注目を集めた。イノベーター同士の協業は世界クラスの技術開発につながるため、重要な知的財産権を創出し、イギリス市場と海外の両方でそれを保護することが不可避だと思われる。

後者の課題、人工知能とデータについては、イギリスは長きに亘って優れた伝統を誇っている。ロンドンやケンブリッジ内やその周辺に拠点を構えるイギリスのハイテク広域クラスターは、ヨーロッパのスタートアップ企業分類の中では最大とたびたび称され、UK IPO(イギリス知的財産庁)による最近のレポート はDeepmind社、Magic Pony Technology社、そしてSwiftkey社(それぞれGoogle、Twitter、マイクロソフトなどの大企業に買収された)などのスタートアップ企業を含めた、イギリスの近年の成功エピソードに光を当てている。

このUK IPOのレポートでは、AI関連特許申請数が全体の特許申請数に占める割合が、最も早く増加した3カ国のうち1つにイギリスを挙げ(他はアメリカとオーストラリア)、まずイギリスで申請されるAI発明の特許申請のうち、およそ90%が海外でも申請される(最初にアメリカや中国などで出願される特許申請数より大幅に高い)、とした。


発明者はUK IPOを通して国内を対象に特許を保護することも、EPO(欧州特許庁)に特許申請を申請してイギリスを指定し、中央的に特許を保護することもできる。

イギリスに本拠地を置く企業は、まずUK IPOで特許申請を出願することによって低コストで特許システムに登録することができ、さらに海外で特許申請するか否かを判断するまでに、迅速で高水準な審査と検索を利用することができる。実際、アメリカの申請者の一部は、イギリスの迅速な総合検索や審査手順を利用することを唯一の目的として、USPTO(アメリカ特許商標庁)でアメリカでの事前申請を提出次第、イギリスで出願することが知られている。

UK IPOの手数料は低額である。正式申請、検索および審査の料金は現在320ポンド以下で、電子申請には割引が適用できる。25件以上の申請には1件につき少額の料金がかかり、35ページ以上の明細には少額の追加審査料が発生するが、通例、他に追加料金はかからない。更新料でさえ、その特許が認可されてから初めて発生し、第1回目の支払いは申請日から4年後である。


顧客に全面的なヨーロッパ申請を行う予算がない場合、ヨーロッパ市場で特許を保護するにおいてイギリス国内での特許申請はコスト効率の良い方法である。名目GDPではイギリスはヨーロッパで2番目に大きな経済国である。元々英語で出願していない申請、さらにUS PTO向け申請用にすでに申請の英語翻訳版が存在する場合、簡単にイギリスでの保護を追加することができる。




イギリスではEPOと類似の審査基準を採用しているが、その方法はより簡略的で、その結果、特許権所有者に対して比較的有利であるように見受けられる。欧州特許庁は、第三者組織に課せられる特許の関連責任を含めて特許品質について強調しており、このため不明確または過剰に広範に亘る請求に関する質問、対象の追加そして進歩性の議論を重大視している。こういった要素はイギリスにも当てはまるが、理路整然とした申し立てがされた場合において、UK IPOは申請者に善意の解釈をする場合がある。

UK IPOでは統合検索と審査が利用でき、つまり優先日から12か月以内に出願された申請について、申請者は公開前に特許性評価を受けることができる。これが好結果だった場合、この審査報告書を他国におけるグローバル特許審査ハイウェイ(GPPH)への申請根拠として利用することができる。他には、侵害行為の情報などの根拠が示される限り、または環境にやさしいテーマに関連した申請など、UK IPOでは早期審査が可能。GPPHはイギリスでも利用でき、他の管轄権内で既に認められた申請の迅速化に利用することができる。この迅速化に料金はかからない。EPOでも、PACE手順に基づいた早期審査が常時可能である。

日本の申請者が最初にイギリスで出願する可能性は低いと思われるが、ヨーロッパ特許申請してイギリスを指定する、もしくはそれに追加する代わりに、イギリスで申請をすることによって上述の恩恵が受けられる。前述の通り、すでに特許申請の英語翻訳版が存在すると想定し(例えばUSPTOやEPOへの申請用に)、比較的低コストでUK IPOでの特許保護を求めることができる。



この技術革新の背景の中にあって、イギリス裁判所が技術と法律の複雑な事案に対して高水準の判決を下している、と世界的評価を獲得していることも驚くことではない。今日、標準必須特許に対してこれが特に顕著になっており、Huawei 対 ZTE など、ヨーロッパの判決でFRAND(公平、合理的かつ非差別的)規定が見られたように、Unwired Planet対Huawei でこれに基づいた判決が下されており、これが現在世界中で採用されているFRAND交渉手順を形成している。イギリス特許を保有する特許権者は、差止・損害・侵害または非侵害の主張を含む、さまざまな形の宣言的救済に関するイギリス裁判所の知識、FRAND提案であるという宣言、さらにFRANDライセンス条件解決命令を利用できる、という有利な立場にある。

イギリスでのUnwired Planet 対 Huawei訴訟がもたらした重要な結果の1つに、イギリス裁判所が世界的なライセンシング料を決定する能力がある、と示したことがある。被告Huaweiは、あらゆるFRANDライセンスはイギリスに限定されるべきだと主張したが、イギリス裁判所はそれを望むライセンス元とそれを望むライセンス先間で国ごとにライセンスを認めることは「狂気の沙汰」であり、従ってイギリス裁判所は世界的料金を定める能力がある、として第一審でもその後の控訴院でもHuaweiの主張を退けた。この理念は2019年のConversant対Huawei の控訴院判決でも別途認識された。この中で、中国で訴訟が進行中であることから中国裁判所がより適している、と被告が主張してイギリス裁判所管轄権に異議を唱えたがその被告の試みは失敗に終わっている。

イギリス裁判所が現実主義であることは、同裁判所の特許訴訟の進め方にもはっきりと見て取れ、具体的に言うと同裁判所は侵害と有効性を同時に検討する傾向にあり、主張の構築に(逐語的ではなく)目的論的解釈と呼ばれるアプローチを取っている。先日、Actavis対Eli Lilly に対する最高裁判決でイギリスの均等論が導入されたことによって、このアプローチはさらに広がることになった。これによってイギリスはよりヨーロッパの慣習と整合し、逐語的または目的論的な主張の言葉使いを超えて追加的な保護範囲が認められることから、より特許権所有者に有利な姿勢となった。2018年のIcescape対Ice World 控訴院判決では、モバイルアイスリンク技術の侵害を認めるにあたって均等論が適用された。侵害の申し立てでは「平行に」並べた冷却パイプがあり、特許主張では冷却パイプは「連続して」設置する必要がある、としていた。しかしこの特許の発明の中核は連結部間にフレキパイプ接手が使用されていること、とし、このような違いがあるにも関わらず侵害が認められた。




申請者にとって、イギリスとヨーロッパの仕組みの利点の1つがフレキシビリティである。特許の出願と施行には、それぞれの国がそれぞれのアプローチを取っている。イギリスとヨーロッパによる保護のアプローチにはいずれもメリットとデメリットがあり、状況に応じて申請者にプラスとなるだろう。特許保護のいずれの道を選ぶとしても、Reddie & Grose LLPにはそれをサポートするノウハウがある。

Nick Reeve



Nick Reeve joined Reddie & Grose in 1999 and was made a partner in 2005. He is a fluent Japanese speaker, and specialises in patents in the software and electronics sector, primarily computer and software implemented inventions, such as those relating to AI and IoT related inventions, electronics and electrical devices, as well as telecommunications and standards related matters. He has particular expertise writing and filing UK and European applications for clients across the world, as well as building client portfolios that suit the commercial needs of his clients. He has extensive experience of European patent oppositions, giving UK pre-litigation advice, performing freedom-to-operate searches, and handling portfolio due diligence and transfer matters.

Nick Reeveは1999年にReddie&Groseに入所し、2005年にパートナーになりました。彼は日本語を流暢に話し、ソフトウェアおよびエレクトロニクス分野の特許、主に、AIやIoT関連の発明、電子装置や電気機器、電気通信や規格関連の問題に関連するものなど、コンピューターやソフトウェアに実装される発明を専門としています。彼は、世界中のクライアント向けに英国および欧州の出願書類を作成および出願する特定の専門知識を持ち、また、クライアントの商業的ニーズに合ったクライアントポートフォリオを構築しています。彼は、欧州特許異議申立について幅広い経験を持ち、英国の訴訟前のアドバイス提供、FTO調査の実行、ポートフォリオのデューデリジェンスと譲渡問題の処理を行ってきました。

Paul Loustalan



Paul Loustalan has been a qualified UK and European patent attorney for over ten years, and is a partner at Reddie & Grose LLP based in London. Paul has a background in mechanical engineering, and his PhD research was in the area of fuel injectors for IC engines. As a patent attorney, Paul's day-to-day practice includes drafting, filing and prosecuting patent applications in the field of advanced engineering, and in particular the automotive sector such as electric and hybrid-electric vehicles and associated technologies such as control and autonomous driving systems. As well as successfully obtaining granted patents for his clients, Paul also works closely with them to build a commercially relevant and robust IP strategy and portfolio.

Paul Loustalanは、英国および欧州の弁理士として10年以上のキャリアがあり、ロンドンに拠点を置くReddie&Grose LLPのパートナーです。 Paulは機械工学のバックグラウンドを持ち、博士号の研究はICエンジンの燃料噴射器の分野でした。 弁理士として、Paulの日々の業務には、高度なエンジニアリングの分野、特に電気自動車やハイブリッド電気自動車などの自動車セクター、および制御や自動運転システムなどの関連技術の分野での特許出願書の起草、出願、出願手続きが含まれます。Paulは、クライアントのために特許を取得するだけでなく、彼らと密接に連携して、商業的に関連性のある堅牢な知財戦略とポートフォリオを構築します。

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The ban could be extended or cancelled, depending on whether Judge Pauline Newman cooperates with an investigation, the Judicial Council of the Federal Circuit stated
Sources say some China-based lawyers are prepared to take large pay cuts to join stable practices, but most firms are sceptical about new hires