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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Tweaks to the UK patent system

As from next month (4th October, to be precise), the UK-IPO will be implementing two fairly minor tweaks to the UK patent system, one of which is designed to make the work of patent examiners easier, while the other may result in slightly less pain for applicants and their attorneys too. The detail of these changes are available, but well hidden, on the UK-IPO's website here and here.

(right: no, not that sort of Tweak)

The first involves changes to patent forms 9A and 10, relating to requests for search and examination respectively. A new option will be available to allow applicants to permit the UK-IPO to share search and examination reports with other patent offices. While these would be available anyway after publication, they will become available on a confidential basis beforehand, if permitted by the applicant on filing. The IPKat thinks that this will probably be of no use to most applicants, but could be useful when speedy processing is required in more than one country, and is really of most use to patent examiners to avoid duplication of work.

The second tweak relates to a new, and technically quite complicated, arrangement under the Priority Document Access Service (PDAS), a facility available via WIPO for electronically accessing copies of priority documents. At the moment, physical certified copies are normally required when filing foreign applications, so that the foreign office can be sure of a priority claim. With PDAS, if the priority application was filed at the UK-IPO electronically and the applicant chooses to allow the application to become available through the service, further applications at other offices (but currently only these ones) can be filed indicating that a copy of the earlier application is available online. The IPKat thinks that this is a sensible fix for a common problem, particularly when dealing with offices that tend to be a bit slow in providing certified copies.

UPDATE, 23 September 2009: More information on new Forms 9A and 10 is available from the UK-IPO here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... not sure the first of these is such a good idea. Sure, it reduces the burden on examiners - but if this takes off this means that applications prosecuted in multiple countries will not be considered as thoroughly as at the moment.

Independent examination by multiple patent offices is one of the things which keeps down the number of invalid patents (from an awful lot to a lot) - or at least makes it easier for third parties to consider validity by being able to read search reports from each territory where a patent has been granted.

If Examiners search thoroughly and also add in objections others have thought of, that helps patent quality - if they decide that if another Patent Office could not find anything else there must not be anything else to search for, that doesn't help.

All for sharing priority docs though.

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