Patent Office supports innovation

Right: under a new Government initiative, Patent Office staff are trained to cheer on their favourite innovators

The UK Patent Office, driven by a rare compulsive disorder that makes it want to be keep being genuinely and sincerely useful to its customers despite the fact that it is an organ of state administration, is launching another consultation exercise, this one being on its strategy for supporting innovation. According to the Intro:

"The Patent Office has been considering how it can deploy its considerable knowledge, resources and expertise to support innovation in the UK beyond our existing support activities and core statutory functions of granting IP rights, serving as a tribunal and providing advice on IP policy to Ministers. To this end, we have prepared a strategy for supporting innovation which is the subject of this consultation. Annex 1 describes how the Office intends contributing to the Government’s innovation support agenda by building on its existing support activities and pursuing new initiatives.

Appended to the strategy is a wide ranging action programme which constitutes a menu from which activities will be pursued when resources permit. The Office will not necessarily lead on all the activities. Where we propose working in partnership with other organisations our aim is to establish how best we can engage with them in support of joint objectives. Priority will be given to actions which offer the greatest benefit in respect to innovation.

An independent review of the intellectual property rights in the UK is currently being undertaken by Andrew Gowers who has been appointed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to lead the review and report in Autumn this year. See the Gowers Review website for more information".

Left: an innovator in urgent need of government support

Send your submissions and comments to Sally Vaughan by not later than 21 August 2006. The World Cup is no excuse, says the IPKat, since it will be well over by then. Submission instructions here. Merpel says the best thing about consultations is the way they protect people: if you ever want to complain, in years to come, about what the Patent Office is or isn't doing, they can always say "well, why didn't you say so when we were begging you for your comments?"

The public domain: a reader asks ...

An anxious reader asks:
"Do you think it is correct usage to refer to the subject matter of an expired patent as falling into the public domain, or should the term be reserved for copyright? I have found plenty of examples of use of the expression in the context of patents on the the internet, and wikipedia seems pretty clear on the matter, but I wonder whether you can point to anything really authoritive?".
The IPKat replies:
"Dear Anxious,
There's nothing authoritative since the words 'public domain' have been given different shades of meaning at different times. However, I'd recommend only using the term 'public domain' in respect of subject matter which has fallen out of all types of IP protection. If the patent has expired but there remains copyright, design or trade mark protection, it's not really very public and you can get into trouble for using it".
Comments, anyone? Guy - you can be first ...

1 comment:

  1. "Public Domain" has many shades of meaning. When considering the patentability of an invention the public domain is often equated with "available to the public"; it can be accessed by anyone with or without charge. It does not indicate freedom of rights.
    It is dangerous to consider expired and revoked patents to be in the public domain in the same terms as copyright. There are often hidden extant rights. A chemical compound per se may have no patent protection but some methods of preparation and/or its uses may be the subject of patent protection. Its trivial name may be a registered trade mark.


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