1.2.2 Patent offices and administrative proceedings
Patent offices are responsible for administering the patent system, including the examination and grant of patents. Frequently, these offices administer opposition or third party observation mechanisms that make it possible for third parties to intervene in the patent examination process before the grant of a patent, as well as administrative revocation and invalidation mechanisms to challenge a patent after its grant.9 Some jurisdictions also make available procedures to oppose a patent for a limited time after grant, in addition to other ways of challenging validity. Post-grant mechanisms usually allow for the correction of the scope of the patent by way of limiting the claims. In some jurisdictions, patent offices determine applications for declarations of non-infringement; claims of infringement (with the agreement of the parties); entitlement to patents; compensation for employees; and licenses, including compulsory licenses.10 Some patent offices also operate opinion schemes through which they issue nonbinding, advisory opinions on various patent issues including infringement, patentability or (in)sufficiency of disclosure.11
While the design of such patent office administrative review mechanisms differs in each of the reviewed jurisdictions, the common objective is to provide an effective and cost-efficient means of increasing patent quality and resolving patent disputes, particularly those related to validity. These mechanisms serve as an alternative to potentially lengthy and costly judicial proceedings.