Patent court jurisdiction

Posted: 13th November 2012

The Patent County Court has accepted jurisdiction to hear an inventor’s claim that disclosures he made to a manufacturer regarding the design of a folding golf cart were publicly revealed in breach of confidence. Having started life as a claim for revocation of a patent, the dispute fell within the court’s special jurisdiction under section 287 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Golf at seasideThe primary action had been disposed of when the inventor conceded that a patent he had registered for the golf cart should be revoked on grounds of public disclosures relating to its design made by the manufacturer prior to registration. However, his counter-claim against the manufacturer for damages or an account of profits in respect of alleged breaches of confidence remained extant.

The court ruled that it had power to hear and determine the breach of confidence claim on the basis that it was ‘ancillary’ to proceedings which, when instituted, had related to patent or design issues. The manufacturer is disputing the inventor’s claim on the basis that the golf cart design was invented by its own staff.