Friday 6 April 2012

Breakthrough IP

A European patent belonging to AIM-listed Ceres Power has been opposed.  According to Espacenet, the patent in question is the earliest of Ceres’ filings, claiming priority from an application initially filed by Imperial College London.

The risk of opposition was indirectly acknowledged in Ceres’ 2011 Annual Report, which stated that “there is always a degree of uncertainty over the ability to register certain IP rights.  IP insurance provides additional protection for agreement, pursuit and defence of IP terms and rights”.

Perhaps surprisingly given Ceres’ focus on developing fuel cell technology for use in small scale combined heat and power products for the residential sector and energy security applications, the opposition comes from the German Centre for Air- and Space-Travel (DLR).  DLR’s website indicates that they are using fuel cell technology to supply an electric motor to drive an aircraft during taxiing.

According to an article entitled "Breakthrough IP" in the UK IPO’s IP Insight newsletter, Ceres has from the start focused on applications for its fuel cell in the home.  The 2011 Annual Report also sets out a strategy of co-development and/or partnership which “enables the Group to maintain control of key intellectual property”.  It follows that the impact of the opposition - should it be successful – on the company’s value may be low.

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