The UK-IPO has proudly announced today of the 100th (according to their calculations - see below) Patent Office Opinion to be issued since section 74A came into force in 2005. By some sort of happy coincidence, the opinion in question (number 19/09, available here) has been issued in response to a request by the well-known vacuum cleaner company Dyson, and supports their view that a patent owned by their competitor Samsung is invalid. The UK-IPO say:
"The 100th opinion, which like all other opinions can be viewed on the IPO’s website, considers whether a patent owned by Samsung which relates to cyclonic vacuum cleaners is invalid as claimed by Dyson. Whilst Dyson has previously challenged a number of patents owned by Samsung in the Courts [see the IPKat's previous post here for details], this is the first time that the company has requested an Opinion.While the IPKat thinks that the Opinions service is in general a Good Thing, he is quite sceptical about the idea of extending the service to cover aspects such as patentability, sufficiency and entitlement, areas that tend to be a lot more muddy and therefore less suited to a quick review on the papers that the opinions service takes the form of. He strongly recommends that his readers take the questionnaire (which only takes a minute or two) and express their own views on the matter.
At only £200 to use the service, and with a 12-week turnaround, the service has proved to be popular with both large and small businesses as well as individual inventors. Other household names who have used the service include Marks & Spencer [Opinion 02/08] and Unilever [Opinion 27/07].
Previous opinions have considered the validity and infringement of patents relating to for example pharmaceuticals, methods of genetic testing, devices for producing aircraft engines as well as less complex devices for dispensing cold beer and securing garden sheds. A recent opinion that attracted media attention concluded that an innovative cable tie that received investment from two dragons in an episode of the BBC’s Dragons Den infringed an earlier patent owned by another company. [as commented on by the IPKat here]
In light of success of the opinions service, the IPO is considering extending the service; a questionnaire is available for customers to give their views on this."
On a more pedantic note, the IPKat has just counted up the opinions that have actually been issued to date. According to his calculations, based on the UK-IPO's own records, opinion 19/09 is actually only the 98th opinion to be issued. Even taking into account the five cases where an opinion was refused, or the other five cases where an opinion request was withdrawn, the IPKat is unable to arrive at the conclusion that Dyson's opinion is the 100th. Can any of his readers help the IPKat with his counting?
Postscript (21 September): The count now adds up to Dyson's being the 100th to issue. How this happened is beyond the poor confused IPKat's abilities to comprehend, but he suspects that there are now two opinions on the page that were not there before. This one certainly wasn't there last week.