Patent decision

BL number
Concerning rights in
Hearing Officer
Mr S Probert
Decision date
12 February 2010
Person(s) or Company(s) involved
Virulite Ltd
Provisions discussed
Section 4A, section 3, section 14(5)
Excluded fields (allowed), Inventive step, Support
Related Decisions


The invention concerned a method of cosmetically treating skin using light of a very specific, narrow wavelength (1072nm) to remove wrinkles caused by the natural ageing process. The Hearing Office considered the EPO and UK caselaw and concluded that the fundamental test for inventions in this field is whether the patent, if granted, would interfere with the work of a medical or veterinary practitioner in their treatment of patients? In this case, he found that it would not, and therefore the invention was not excluded as a method of treatment by surgery or therapy.

The method of the invention may be performed using existing apparatus already available to the public, and which is the subject of the applicant’s earlier patent. Nevertheless, the earlier patent only concerns the treatment of pathological conditions (eg. herpetic infections) and there was no reason for the person skilled in the art to consider that it might be used in an alternative, non-pathological, purely cosmetic treatment. The Hearing Officer also accepted the applicant’s argument that the use of light to treat wrinkled skin is counter-intuitive.

Finally, the Hearing Officer found that the claims, as amended, were support by the description. The case was remitted to the examiner for the examination process to be concluded.

Full decision O/058/10 PDF document37Kb