British Steel case study

Successful defense of a monopoly, ensuring further proceedings were withdrawn.

Our client, British Steel, is a UK based manufacturer of high-quality steel products, exported worldwide.


The matter

Having advised on British Steel’s IP previously, Appleyard Lees was approached by the company to handle the defence of one of their existing European patents at the appeal stage. Their patent, which related to steel used in the production of tram and rail tracks, had been opposed by an Austrian manufacturer.

In response to British Steel’s instruction, we put together a team of opposition specialists led by Appleyard Lees partner Howard Read, who would act as the main contact for British Steel throughout the proceedings. The eventual appeal would be led by principal associate, Terry Instone.


The outcome

The complexity of the proceedings stemmed from the extensive prior art in the field of steel for rails. Despite this, the Appleyard Lees team was able to argue that the British Steel claims covered a particular composition that was new and inventive, resulting in the case being won on selection criteria. The Board’s decision (T 0261/15) clarified legal issues concerning the treatment of overlapping ranges and is now considered as a key case to study when assessing selection novelty.


Our distinctive service

As a result of the Appleyard Lees team’s success, British Steel was able to maintain its monopoly. In addition, the opponent withdrew another pending opposition action against a British Steel patent.


Visit our dedicated oppositions page, for more insight on patent oppositions.

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