Patents: Smith International Inc v Specialised Petroleum Services

A short but very important procedural point was decided in Smith International Inc v Specialised Petroleum Services Group Ltd. [2005] EWCA Civ 1357 (17 Nov 2005). Appeals from decisions of the Patents Court on appeals from the Patent Office continue to be governed by s.97 (3) of the Patents Act 1977 rather that by s.55 of the Access to Justice Act 1999. The significance of the point is that s.55 precludes appeals to the Court of Appeal where there has been an appeal to the High Court unless the Court of Appeal considers that
(a) the appeal would raise an important point of principle or practice, or
(b) there is some other compelling reason for the Court of Appeal to hear it.

The barrier to clear imposed by s.97 (3) is still pretty high. The applicant has to get permission to appeal from the Patents Court or Court of Appeal and permission will only be granted for decisions made under ss. 8, 12, 18, 20, 27, 37, 40, 61, 72, 73 or 75 of the Act or where the ground of appeal is that the decision of the Patents Court was wrong in law.


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