Facebook and Yahoo's US Patent Litigation - A Warning to UK Businesses (From Somerset County Gazette)
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Facebook and Yahoo's US Patent Litigation - A Warning to UK Businesses
9:00am Thursday 21st June 2012 in Business
FACEBOOK’S recent action in countersuing rival Yahoo has highlighted the importance of UK businesses ensuring they have appropriate intellectual property rights clearance before launching new products and services.
Web portal Yahoo has accused social network Facebook of infringing 10 of its US patents, including those for systems and methods for advertising on the web. Facebook deny infringement and have counterclaimed against Yahoo, asserting that Yahoo has violated 10 of Facebook's patents covering, inter alia, methods for photo tagging and making online recommendations to users.
UK businesses should be equally concerned about avoiding the legal pitfalls inherent in developing and launching a new product or process in the UK.
In the UK, businesses can apply to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) for a patent covering the territory of the UK only. Alternatively, an application for patent protection in a number of European countries, including the UK, can be made via the European Patent Office in Munich.
To be patentable, an invention must be ‘new’ (i.e. it was not known anywhere in the world prior to the date the patent application was first filed), must involve an ‘inventive step’ (i.e. must not be obvious to a person skilled in the relevant art) and must be capable of being ‘industrially applied’.
If you are planning on launching a new product or process, it is sensible beforehand to consider either personally conducting a preliminary ‘prior art’ search, or to conduct one via Ashfords or a patent agent, so as to try to ensure that what you are planning to do will not infringe anyone else's earlier patent rights.
Businesses that are proactive and think about the relevant issues before they launch a new product or process are less likely to end up on the wrong end of a claim for patent infringement.
Those that don't may, quite literally, pay the price. For more information, please contact Carl Steele, a Partner and specialist Intellectual Property lawyer at Ashfords LLP, on 01392-333997 or email@example.com