The first parts of the new UK Intellectual Property Act 2014 come into force today. The act will introduce a range of new measures, one of which is that it expands the options available to patent proprietors for marking patented products. The benefit of marking a patented product is that it prevents an infringer from relying on a defence of innocent infringement and avoiding paying damages. From today, this benefit can be obtained by marking products with the address of a web page that is accessible free of charge and clearly associates the product with the relevant patent number(s).
Marking a product with the address of a web page alleviates the practical problem of marking products that are covered by several patents with all of the associated patent numbers, which can be difficult to achieve and unsightly. It should also make it easier and cheaper to keep the marking updated as relevant patents expire or are allowed to lapse. This is particularly important as marking a product falsely is a criminal offence in the UK.
US law changed some time ago to introduce the option of marking patented products by reference to a web page. A carefully crafted web page might be able to cover marking of a product patented in both the UK and the USA, something on which we are well placed to advise with our transatlantic patent practice.