The recent decision of the High Court in the case of Re Bending Light was a warning to businesses about the importance of renewing registered IP rights on time.
Bending Light Ltd was the proprietor of patent GB 2 342 726 for a "light transmission optical component with degraded crests for reducing flare". It failed to pay the renewal fees on time and its patent lapsed. It applied to the Intellectual Property Office and then to the High Court asking for its patent to be restored. It said that the company had been in financial difficulties and so did not have the money available to pay the renewal fees. The IPO and the High Court were unsympathetic. The court scrutinised Bending Light's accounts and said that it did have some small surplus funds available but that even if there were no surplus funds Bending Light should have put off its other creditors and prioritised payment of the renewal fees. The court found that Bending Light had not taken reasonable care to see that the renewal fees were paid and it lost its patent for good.