The initial review of the London Office has now concluded. The findings suggest the nature of work being undertaken by the Patent Office represents a shift to more policy-oriented activities whilst maintaining traditional operational functions. The Patent Office Board believe this focus warrants a definite presence in London. The Patent Office says:
"The review also clearly indicates considerable under-occupancy of the hearing and tribunal rooms and decreasing utilisation of the search room. There is a need to address these and other issues. As a result a number of options have been identified for reconfiguring the operation. The next steps of the project are to work up in detail options to address the findings of the review.The IPKat says, if you want to comment on these proposals please do so before Friday 1 April to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Patent Office is consulting customers and users over the next month for views on their plans. Options we will be pursuing for individual business areas include:
- Redesigned reception with integrated personnel attending to any visitor to the building, thereby facilitating movement within the building more efficiently
- Provision for customers to file documents at reception during business hours enabling our users to complete their business with the Patent Office promptly
- Potentially relocating the remaining filing functions to the ground floor thereby removing the need for users to be held up behind the security barriers and being able to complete their business promptly
- Exploring the need to recover the costs for additional services over and above a basic receipting service, e.g. checking contents of packages
Both of these options address the reality that e-filing solutions will become more prevalent in the coming years. The Office also proposes to
- Combine facilities with those already present at the British Library to create a superior service in London for database searching of patents, trademarks and designs as well as viewing reports, files and journals
- Continue to hold hearings in London but explore options for reducing the number of rooms
- Integrate booking systems that facilitate maximising utilisation of the rooms
- Promote the use of technology for hearings in order to offer a wider range of times
- Integrate the Copyright and Central Enquiries Units to standardise practices across the Office and provide customers with a holistic service.
- The policy support function will become a distinct activity and incorporated into the Intellectual Property and Innovation Directorate policy support team.
- Integrate the tribunal secretary role with other tribunal functions in the Office
- Explore opportunities for external provision of the secretary function
- The Patent Office believes it is necessary to have some facilities for meetings at its disposal in London. Similar to hearings we will pursue the option to reduce the overall capacity.
The overall location in London will also be explored. Alternative locations within the current vicinity will be considered on their merit.
We will also consider a new focus for the Patent Office that involves support for the innovation and research policy agenda. Currently we are working the above proposals up into practice and a Business Case will be presented to the Patent Office Board mid-April for a definitive decision on the future of London.
We will be keeping our customers and stakeholders updated through Practice Work Group Meetings, All Presidents Meeting, notices in professional journals and websites and emailed to specific interests".