Published on January 21, 2022
KIT prevails in patent dispute
A patent is a sovereignly granted industrial property right for a technical invention. Patenting gives the owner the sole right to prohibit outsiders from using the protected object or process: third parties are not permitted to use, copy or offer the protected technology without consent. In this way, commercial enterprises protect themselves against imitators and gain competitive advantages in a highly competitive market.
Financial returns from patents
If one wishes to use an invention not only in one's own business but to generate an additional economic benefit in the form of license income, the patent holder can grant rights of use subject to licensing for commercial use. KIT also follows this approach in terms of technology transfer: licenses are granted to industrial partners in the form of non-exclusive or exclusive rights of use to KIT's industrial property rights based on scientific findings, knowledge, and know-how from research, whereby KIT receives financial returns. KIT's intellectual property thus finds industrial application and contributes to social progress. It is only when intellectual property is secured by industrial property rights that the possibility of more far-reaching valorization arises, which was not the case before. In 2020, more than 1,700 intellectual property rights were part of KIT's portfolio.
Struggle for patents
The fact that even scientific institutions are not immune to patent disputes is shown by a recent example in which KIT was confronted with opposition proceedings. The history in brief: In 2015, a patent application was filed for a new method that monitors chromatographic purification in real time and enables continuous process control in multi-column chromatography. The invention originated from the Institute of Process Engineering in Life Sciences (BLT), Section IV: Biomolecular Separation Engineering. In 2019, the European Patent was officially granted by the European Patent Office. Shortly thereafter, opposition to the grant was filed with the Patent Office by two external parties, requesting a rejection of the grant. Oppositions were filed by a large chemical and pharmaceutical company and an unknown opponent represented by a law firm.
Patent office decides in favor of KIT
After the oppositions were formally allowed by the European Patent Office, the KIT responded accordingly, resulting in oral proceedings at the Patent Office in December 2021. After 10 hours of hearing, the European Patent Office came to the decision to reject the oppositions of the plaintiffs. Thus, the validity of patent EP3173782 was confirmed. The litigation was led by an external law firm that has been cooperating with KIT for many years.
Some of the patented technologies can be found in the KIT technology platform. For more information on the technology that was the subject of the opposition proceedings, see technology offer 646.
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