Revocation of a European patent by the European Patent Office or by the English Court is final

United Kingdom
Beloit and Lenzing

In Beloit v Valmet (see also page 8) in the English Court of Appeal, Beloit was the proprietor of two patents, both of which had been opposed in the European Patent Office (EPO) and appeals were pending on both. In an action in the Patents Court for infringement of those two patents Jacob J had revoked them both. Beloit appealed.

The Court of Appeal confirmed the right of the English Court to revoke a European patent (UK) even if proceedings were pending in the EPO. However, the Patents Court should stay English proceedings pending a final resolution of EPO proceedings if the latter would be resolved quickly and a stay would not inflict injustice on a party or be against the public interest - an unlikely scenario, as the Court of Appeal recognised, given that opposition proceedings in the EPO can take from 4 to 8 years

The Lenzing case is the mirror image of Beloit. Lenzing's European Patent had been opposed in the EPO and revoked. As a result the Comptroller revoked the corresponding European Patent (UK).

Lenzing had previously started patent infringement proceedings in the Patents Court in England and so the defendants applied for that infringement action to be dismissed, which it was. In parallel proceedings in the Queen's Bench Division, Lenzing sought judicial review of the Comptroller's decision on the ground that the UK Parliament required a European Patent (UK) to be revoked only if revoked in accordance with the European Patent Convention (EPC), so requiring an enquiry into such a revocation in England.

Both the Comptroller and the defendants in the proceedings argued that all that was necessary was that the EPO, acting in purported exercise of its powers under the EPC (of which it, and not national courts, was the judge), had revoked the patent.

The Court agreed holding that the EPO was an international organisation and that the United Kingdom and other states had agreed that the EPO should be the final arbiter of the validity of European Patents. The UK Court could not look behind the EPO's decision.