Third parties may file opposition to the grant of a patent. Oppositions are subject to a fee and must be filed within nine months of the date the patent was granted. There are a number of differences between the Swiss and European grant procedures.
What is meant by opposing the grant of a patent? It is the claim of an external individual or institution that the grant procedure has not been properly conducted or has not taken due consideration of the relevant facts. Opposition involves requesting the granting office to reconsider the grant of the patent in its current form. Opposition to a Swiss patent (i.e. a patent granted by the IPI under the Swiss procedure) must therefore be submitted to the IPI together with a written justification.
The only acceptable grounds for opposition to a Swiss patent are that the related invention is not patentable (Art. 1a, 1b and 2 PatA).
Such inventions include, for example, the human body at all stages of its formation and development. Naturally occurring sequences or partial sequences of genes are also not patentable. Opposition can also be filed against inventions that are contrary to human dignity or disregard the integrity of living organisms, or are in any other way contrary to public policy or morality.
Anyone can file opposition to a European patent though the European Patent Office (EPO). The EPO allows for more grounds for opposition.
In addition to the grounds for opposition to a patent that apply in the Swiss procedure, opponents can also list the following grounds:
- The patented invention is not new or innovative.
- The patented invention is not technically or commercially applicable.
- The patent is not obvious for a person skilled in the art.
- The subject-matter of the patent extends beyond the disclosure of the original filing.
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