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Ken Targett

Hampshire, United Kingdom

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British patents

Opposition, Revocation and Amendment After Grant

There are no provisions for formal opposition by third parties to a British national patent application while it is pending. 

However, once the application has been published, third parties can comment to the Patent Office about the patentability of the invention, and the examiner will take their comments into account during substantive examination. 

After grant, third parties can apply to have the patent revoked if they have good grounds for doing so, such as knowledge of prior art which was not available the examiner (including, for example, knowledge of disclosure of the invention by the applicant before the application was filed). The result of revocation proceedings might be that the patent is maintained, that it is revoked entirely, or that the scope of the claims in the patent is reduced. 

If the patentee becomes aware, after grant, of prior art which affects the validity of the patent, the patentee can voluntarily apply to amend the patent. Any such amendment must not add any new technical information to the patent specification, and it must not increase the scope of the patent.

If a patentee becomes aware of invalidity of the patent, it is important to try to put the matter right without delay and not to try to enforce the invalid patent, otherwise difficulties can subsequently be encountered in amending the patent and enforcing it.