A Review Of The 2016 Full Oppositions Statistics


Patents opposed

The number of opposed patents reached a new high in 2016, though the year-on-year increase was not very large (ca. 3% more than 2015).

It is notable that a marked increase in grants in the second half of 2015 was followed by a dramatically increased number of patents granted in 2016. It seems likely that an increased level of grants will be maintained at least into the first half of 2017, as illustrated in graphic one, below.

Whether increased levels of grants are a passing aberration or a sustainable trend is yet to be seen.

An increase in patent grants could be expected to mean that more patents will be opposed.

Graphic two, below, might indicate signs of significantly increased numbers of patents opposed at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 (the number given for patents opposed in February 2017 may not yet be finalized).

Who was opposed?

The 2800+ patents opposed in 2016 belong to about 1400 patentees. Around two thirds of opposed patentees (1000+) had each only one patent opposed in 2016. Only one third (ca. 400) of opposed patentees had 2 or more patents opposed.

31 "most opposed" patentees (just 2% of opposed patentees) each had 10 or more patents opposed - accounting for 600 opposed patents and about 20% of the total. The 31 "most opposed" patentees are shown in the table below.

Who filed oppositions?

The 2800+ patents opposed in 2016 faced around 3600 oppositions filed by approaching 1500 opponents. Two thirds (~1000) of opponents each filed only one opposition in 2016. One third of opponents (~500) filed 2 or more oppositions. 1200 oppositions - more or less one third of total oppositions in 2016 - were filed by the 59 most active opponents who each filed 10 or more oppositions. Those 59 opponents are shown in the table below.

10% "straw men"

Two of the opponents in the "Most Active Opponents" table appear to be "straw man" opponents (Strawman Limited and James Poole Limited). It is not possible to identify "hidden" straw men but it seems that well over 150 more or less overt straw men (e.g. individual patent attorneys, patent attorney firms) were opponents in 2016 and filed around 10% of all oppositions.

A rather extreme example of the popularity of straw men in 2016 is shown on the right: 6 patents face 36 oppositions by 13 opponents of which 12 are overt straw men.

Technical fields of opposed patents

The IPC has 639 subclasses - e.g. A01B. The patents opposed in 2016 ranged across 380+ subclasses (primary...

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