The launch of the IP Centre of Excellence at BPP School on 24 Nov was a great success. In addition to our speakers, Peter Hayward (Head of Litigation at the Patent Office) and Ian Lewis of Miller Insurance, we welcomed Diana Wallis MEP (who had practised as a solicitor before she was returned to the European Parliament), Michael Harrison (President of the Chartered Institute of Patent Agents) and Richard Kempner of Addleshaws.
Peter said that there had been 4 applications for advisory opinions under s.74A of the Patents Act 1977 since the scheme was launched at the beginning of October though only 2 had appeared on the Patent Office opinions web page to date. Three out of the four applications had been brought by individuals or small companies though one had been made by Novo-Nordisk A/S. There had been some teething troubles in the first few applications. One applicant had asked for the process to be confidential which, of course, is not possible. But on the whole the process seemed to be going well. The success of the scheme had led the Patent Office to consider other ADR schemes, such as mediation, and that was something that Michael Harrison applauded.
Some additional interest was afforded by the fact that there were two other IP insurers in the room, David Freeth of HSBC Insurance Brokers and Ian Macleod of IP Insurance Services. All seemed to think that the service was worth using though none was prepared to dispense with counsel's opinion.
The other encouraging thing about the evening was that students from BPP's Leeds and Manchester campuses were in the audience. The Leeds students had put together are an excellent newsletter on IP which I hope to promote through this blog soon.