UK patent law is changing on 1 October 2014 so that anybody marking their products with a website showing which patents apply to their product will get the same benefits as if they had marked the product with the word “patented” and the number of the patent.
This means that infringers will not be able to argue for reduced damages on the basis that their infringement is “innocent”, i.e. that they were not aware of the existence of the patent, and had no reasonable grounds for supposing that the patent existed, at the time of the infringement.
When we first heard rumblings that this change was coming, we suggested there were sound reasons for some patent owners to start online patent marking immediately, without waiting for the law change, particularly if the products were not previously marked due to fear of false patent marking.
Now that this provision is about to come into effect, patent owners who don’t mark their products or currently mark the product with a patent number might wish to reconsider whether online patent marking might be more appropriate.
On the other hand, patent marking might not be appropriate for everybody. UK Courts have set the bar quite high for proving innocent infringement: generally, any company involved in research and development or having employees engaged in patent work should be aware of patents in their field and so cannot rely on the innocent infringement defence.
For advice on whether the online patent marking is appropriate for your business, contact Reddie & Grose LLP. More information is available from the UK Intellectual Property Office, which has prepared a factsheet.
This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking before any action in reliance on it.