The UK-IPO will destroy your documents

The UK-IPO has just issued a press release with the rather worrying title: "Destruction of patent documents filed at the Office".  This is actually all about the gradual transformation (which has been going on for some time now) of the Office into an all-electronic system, at least as far as patent prosecution goes. 

As from the end of next March (or thereabouts), the UK-IPO will be introducing a "scan and shred" policy for documents submitted to them.  Most things submitted will be kept only as a scanned copy, and everything submitted will eventually be destroyed.  

The IPKat is glad to see that the UK-IPO appears to have thought this through very carefully, and have considered what will happen, for example, to colours and greyscales in as-filed drawings, which would otherwise be lost when scanned.  There is also a safeguard for applications filed without an application fee, although the IPKat fails to see why these should be treated any differently from those where the fee is paid on filing.  After all, the law only requires the application fee to be paid within the first 12 months, doesn't it?

Another important point to note, and one that most patent-wise people will already be aware of, is that one should never send originals to the UK-IPO (assignments being a good example).  They don't need them in any case, but as from next year do not expect anything sent to be sent back, except perhaps in very small pieces. 

Tufty would like to know why he can't have his patent application for multi-coloured cat toys published as he intended.  Couldn't the system be brought up to date in this way too? Trade marks and designs can be in colour, so why not patents?
The UK-IPO will destroy your documents The UK-IPO will destroy your documents Reviewed by David Pearce on Friday, November 14, 2008 Rating: 5


  1. Ah, destruction and saving of space. The German Patent Office did this with all dead cases 20 years ago, but did not microfilm it beforehand. It was simply destruction of knowledge. The country famous for its opposition procedure simply destroyed all arguments in successful opposition cases. Only a small number went to appeal and to courts and were reported - the rest, a goldmine of arguments, were simply lost to the World. Other countries leave dead cases to the national archives - not that it is much safer, really. During the period 1912-18 (personal experience) the Public Records Office in the U.K. destroyed all documents from court cases, except for a few "sample cases for demonstration". So it did not help that you could find the case in the correct quarter in the manual and handwritten ledgers in central London ("Whitsuntide") - Kew was unable to deliver.

    The present initiative is sound, to the degree that someone wants to continue paying for migration of the files. Scans have a potential for better long-term results than microfilm, which was extremely black-and-white (or merely faintly grey, dependent on the care they took).

  2. Tufty need not worry: there are at least US patents in color. T. will have to use the following procedure:

    find the multi-colored toy at the bottom of his/her garden, note that it does not change (is stable), that it does not look like any other toy that grows in that garden, file an application for Plant Patent with a colour photograph and suitable fees, apply for small entity (Tufty is a cat, after all) status. If the toys are anything like the plants in "Little Shop of Horrors", they would be granted and registered.


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