Comforted by the seat of justice — no going behind the EPO’s decision to grant a patent

The Court of Appeal has ruled in Virgin Atlantic Airways v Jet Airlines (India) & Zodiac Seats UK and others that the English courts cannot go behind the European Patent Office’s (EPO’s) decision to grant a European patent.

This is part of the long-running patent dispute concerning lie-flat business-class seats for airlines, in relation to a Virgin Atlantic Airways (VAA) innovation that enables airlines to make more efficient use of the limited space on planes.

This decision will be a great relief to patent holders, as it means they can be confident that once the EPO has granted the patent, the patent cannot be attacked in the English court on the basis of any procedural errors made in the grant process (such as a late payment of designation fees). The possibility of such attacks would have increased the hurdles that patent owners have to overcome in enforcing their patents, and the cost of so doing…

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