New UK Patents Rules in the offing

The IPKat has just found out that the UK Patent Office has launched a consultation on a draft set of new Patent Rules, intended to entirely replace those currently in force (the Patent Rules 1995, much amended). The consultation runs until 5 June 2007.

This Kat has not yet read and digested the consultation document, which runs to some 149 pages, but already has a sinking feeling about it. It appears that all the Rule numbers will be changing, along with an substantial amount of minor tinkering. The Patent Office say, in their summary to the document:
"We suggest that it is time for a substantial modernisation of the 1995 Rules. The most significant proposal is a completely new approach to the rules on litigation at the Patent Office – with a set of generic rules of procedure which better reflect current litigation practice.

Other proposals concern the removal of some fee-bearing Forms, introduction of a Welsh language scheme, updating of some formal requirements (in particular to set out requirements in respect of sequence listings), and updating of provisions generally to reflect modern working practices – such as the availability of documents over the internet and the electronic filing of patent applications.

Furthermore the draft Rules include modernised provisions dealing with supplementary protection certificates1, the new EC Regulation on medicinal products for paediatric use, and the recent EC Regulation on compulsory licensing of patents relating to the manufacture of pharmaceutical products for export to countries with public health problems"
A similar exercise was carried out last year on the Registered Designs Rules, resulting in an entirely new version for 2006 onwards. This only included 47 Rules and 3 Schedules, in comparison with the new Patent Rules having 121 Rules and 7 Schedules. Much head scratching will now have to be done among patent practitioners to find out how (or if) the new Rules will change the way they do things in the UK, and whether this would be a good thing. The IPKat will keep you posted.

The (far more sceptical) Merpel points out that the word "modernised" only brings shudders of dread to her feline legs, as it is often a euphemism for aimless tinkering for no real effect but much extra work. Didn't that nice Mr Gowers say that UK patent law was in pretty ok shape? As they say, if it ain't broke...
New UK Patents Rules in the offing New UK Patents Rules in the offing Reviewed by David Pearce on Monday, March 12, 2007 Rating: 5


  1. The new proposals include an introduction of a Welsh language scheme. So far three requests have failed to provide the Welsh language translation of UK Intellectula Property Office which must replace Y Swyddfa Batentau.

  2. The Welsh language scheme is one I am looking more closely at, because it seems, on first reading, to be completely idiotic. The IPKat will most likely do a post on the subject soon.

  3. Theoretically this is a real can of worms!

    One danger is that you will have a small number of Welsh-speaking examiners trying to cover all technical areas. The poor examiner may be railroaded into granting a patent because he/she does not have the technical background to counter arguments presented by the applicant.

    Will a patentee with a patent in Welsh be obliged to provide a translation of the claims/description into English when making persons aware of his or her patent?

    In practice, however, I do not think that many people will take advantage of using Welsh.

    May be a good way of getting something into the public domain without it meaning very much to a lot of people outside Wales and Patagonia.


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