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Court of Appeal uphold invalidity of animal flea infestation patent

29 January 2013

The Court of Appeal has upheld the decision that a patent for an animal flea treatment was invalid on grounds of sufficiency due to its broad formulation.

It was found that the patent, required a skilled team to formulate a combination of active ingredients to achieve the claimed result, however, it contained no examples to guide the formulation process. The patent “provided no real practical assistance over and above the common general knowledge”.

As the trial judge stated, the very broad formulation was not “sufficient description to enable the skilled person to arrive at a formulation within the claims without undue effort.”

While there is no requirement for a patent to include specific examples, and this was not in itself fatal in this case, it was this lack of example combined with an inadequate specification which led to the insufficiency finding. This decision is a good reminder that patents which do not easily enable construction of an invention without reference to other sources may be at risk.

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