A friend and I have started producing on our own an object, which before, in order to sell it, we used to buy by a competitor company; at a certain point this company became unapproachable about the supply, and has also increased the prices a lot, but they wrote to us stating that they had a patent. At a first check it really looked that way, but it seems to us that there are other prior equal patents. What can we do to revoke it and continue producing it?

If, in fact, there are patents prior to a competitor preceding his invention, then there really is a possibility of asking to have it annulled as one of the essential requisites (the novelty) necessary for the granting, is missing. It is not surprising that in Italy the patent has been granted, as in our country nobody verifies the pre-existence of other patents, as it is the duty of the holder to guarantee the novelty. Therefore, if the pre-existence of patents similar to a competitor’s can be demonstrated, it is possible acting against him to have his patent declared null. However this is not so simple to do and, above all, it is not possible to argue alone the reasons for this. In this type of action the presence of an expert in patents is always necessary, who can compare the patent in question with the prior ones and can evaluate whether or not there are similarities, not according to an overall opinion, but by studying and analyzing the claims with a microscope. Besides, by starting this kind of action, it is almost certain that you will have to face possible requests from the other party, for damages for unfair competition, for self-defence. This as long as the competitor, up to now, has always had a monopoly regime and that particular product is typical of that firm. Furthermore, contacting the clients of a competitor to propose your own products is behaviour to absolutely avoid. Even for this reason is wise to evaluate and prepare everything properly before starting any kind of action.