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Matt Fisher – Cast Adrift on a Sea of Uncertainty? Equivalency within Patent Law

Public Lecture – Thursday 19 April 2018, 18:00, Room EB206

The UK Supreme Court’s decision in Actavis v Eli Lilly [2017] UKSC 48 represents a sea change in the determination of patent scope in the UK.  In order to align more fully with the Protocol on the Interpretation of Article 69 EPC (European Patent Convention), the Court considered that the extant approach to claim construction needed to change.  Accordingly, the single-stage “purposive” assessment that had been the mainstay of the English courts’ methodology of determining patent scope for the previous 35 years was swept away.  Distinctions have therefore now been drawn between “construction” and “scope”, and explicit recourse to a doctrine of equivalents – a doctrine much derided under the previous regime – has (finally) been embraced.  This lecture will examine the effects of the decision and the broader notion of equivalency within patent law.  In doing so, it aims to address the benefits and disadvantages of the Supreme Court’s approach and to assess the likely challenges that such a shift in approach will bring.

Matt Fisher is Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Laws of University College London.

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