Spotlight on Chemistry & Materials Oppositions

For any innovation-driven business, achieving success in oppositions and appeals can be key to achieving commercial advantage and growth. Whether you’re at the receiving end of an attack against one of your patents, or are looking to clear the way for your own products or services, formulating the right strategy for opposition and appeal is critical.

Patent oppositions are challenging technically, legally, and strategically. Our opposition specialists are able to combine relevant technical expertise with in-depth legal knowledge and clear strategic thinking.

Technically diverse and highly experienced, we work across the whole spectrum of chemical and materials innovation. Whether the subject-matter involves dyes or drugs, catalysts or composites, polymers or pesticides, flavourings or fibreglass, we can offer expertise in every sector. The team inspires loyalty and trust, actively demonstrating a deep interest and genuine awareness of our clients’ technologies and commercial realities.

We understand that successful oppositions require not only deep technical expertise and knowledge of the subject-matter under scrutiny, but a forensic understanding of the evolving procedural aspects of the European Patent Office (EPO) process and timelines. We really dig down and question everything, preparing creative and persuasive submissions.  We're not afraid to try and challenge the law and help shape future EPO practice.

We handle everything from compact cost-conscious defences through to multi-party 'win at all costs' proceedings. We never forget that oppositions are always part of a broader commercial context. Defending an opposed patent may be crucial to preserve exclusivity for your product or technology. Opposing a patent may be an important part of a 'freedom to operate' strategy, for example to de-risk entry into new markets. Filing an opposition is also a tool that can be used to commercial and strategic benefit, for example in licence negotiations.

Ultimately, whether enforcing or defending your patent, it is desirable to be able to do so in a cost-effective manner which is commensurate with the importance of your IP asset and your budget.  Our approach is tailored to ensure we design a strategy that underpins your commercial aspirations.

With sustained success in oppositions and appeals and excellence in advocacy, the team make formidable adversaries. We have an impressive track record in defending our clients’ patents against attacks by competitors, as well as in attacking third parties’ rights. In addition to defending patents we have drafted and prosecuted ourselves, our success rate in patent oppositions is such that companies often transfer responsibility for defending their patents to us during opposition even when we were not responsible for the original drafting or for prosecuting the case.

Our approach to oppositions - trusted advisors, proven performers

Callum

Identify your strongest argument

"Like any advocacy situation, when it comes to persuading the opposition division or appeal board, you need to identify the best arguments you have on each issue. You might have 15 in your favour but only five of them will be strong enough to have a chance of winning the point."
Callum McGuinn

Eleanor

It's a team effort

"Good teamwork both with our clients and internally can be the key to a successful opposition.  In one case, with the client’s intimate knowledge of their field they spotted anomalies in some key data.  We then dedicated time and resources internally to fully analyse the data, understand the problems and used this to build a successful legal argument."
Eleanor Maciver

Julie Carlisle Author Circle v2

Preparation is key

"Working on an opposition is all consuming, you need to be familiar with every inch of the documentation and know the case inside out. Preparation is key - you need to make sure no surprises are thrown at you."
Julie Carlisle

Paul

Understand the commercial reality

"You need to really understand how the opposition fits into the client’s broader commercial strategy, and tailor your approach accordingly. Oppositions are filed with a commercial goal in mind, and a “win” can only be judged relative to those commercial goals – they should not be treated as a purely intellectual exercise.  This means not only shaping our own submissions, but often trying to influence the direction taken by the other side, to try to steer them towards a space which our client is comfortable with."
Paul Dunne

Jonathan

Make sure we are on top of everything scientifically

"We do a lot of background research to understand our client’s technology and their work – to make sure we are on top of everything scientifically, understanding the key experimental work and the technological background. We know what is really important to our clients, we know their invention, how it works and how it relates to other people. We make sure we have explored that on a fundamental level.
Jonathan Wills

Jeremy (2)

A bold and creative strategy is a must

"Oppositions can be hard, worrisome things for clients and a skill I've been able to acquire through experience is to be able to take a step back and genuinely strategise. Sometimes this is in terms of how to tackle the case, but it also includes understanding the broader business context. If a client can share with me and I can understand the real-world commercial realities, that frees me up to be bold and creative.  It also really helps to give that deep awareness of what can happen in an opposition and appeal and paint a strategy that maps for multiple years."
Jeremy Webster

JEREMY WEBSTER

Need help with an opposition?

Our opposition specialists work across the whole spectrum of chemical and materials innovation. We handle everything from compact cost-conscious defences through to multi-party 'win at all costs' proceedings. We will work with you to understand the real-world commercial context and offer up imaginative and pragmatic strategic advice that achieves the right outcome for your business, at the right cost.

Not sure who to talk to? Please get in touch and I'll be happy to help.

Jeremy Webster, Head of Chemistry

Read our opposition blogs

Most opposed patents of 2023

Most opposed patents of 2023

by Katherine Green

Multiple sclerosis therapies are the subject of two of the most opposed patents of 2023. Novartis’ EP2959894 is notable from a patent attorney perspective not only because it’s the subject of 23 ...

Amended Rules of Procedure of the EPO Boards of Appeal are coming into force on 1 January 2024

Amended Rules of Procedure of the EPO Boards of Appeal are coming into force on 1 January 2024

by Emily Hayes

The EPO Boards of Appeal have now published their amended Rules of Procedure and these will be effective from 1 January 2024.

EPO will accelerate oppositions when there are parallel UPC infringement or revocation proceedings

EPO will accelerate oppositions when there are parallel UPC infringement or revocation proceedings

by Lucy Coe

The EPO have announced in the November 2023 Official Journal that they will accelerate opposition proceedings when they are informed of infringement or revocation proceedings related to the same ...

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Experts in chemistry & materials technologies

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Mewburn Ellis

FORWARD MAGAZINE

Mewburn Ellis Forward is a biannual publication that celebrates the best of innovation and exploration. Through its pages we hope to inform and entertain, but also to encourage discussion about the most compelling developments taking place in the scientific and entrepreneurial world. Along the way, we’ll engage with the IP challenges that international organisations face every day.