The UK-IPO: trendy but pointless?

The IPKat has just noticed an amusing quote in a recent case that may have passed many of his readers by. In EI Du Pont Nemours & Co v United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office [2009] EWCA Civ 966, dated 17 September 2009 but only recently made publicly available (see the SPC blog for more), the Honourable Lord Justice Jacob writes:
"Under the SPC scheme an SPC has to be applied for in each Member State where it is wanted – there is no central scheme. Quite why, I do not know. In this country the application is made to the Patent Office (which now goes by the trendy but pointless "operating name" of "UK Intellectual Property Office")" (paragraph 3).
As should be clear to anyone who tends to read the small print first, the UK-IPO is only an outward facade for what is officially still known as the Patent Office. If we are going to be proper about it, the Office should still be identified by the 'old' name, as that is what the law says it is called. Does the new name, which has now been firmly established in the minds of most people, really make any difference or is it a bit pointless? Does anybody at all think that the name is even trendy?
The UK-IPO: trendy but pointless? The UK-IPO: trendy but pointless? Reviewed by David Pearce on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. Surely it isn't "pointless" as they do more than just patents. So as an "outward facade" it would appear to be rather appropriate.

    Also isn't it just the IPO now not the UKIPO?

  2. Let us not forget that the UK-IPO has since wasted yet more money in rebranding itself as the (presumably even more trendy) minimalist "IPO".

    I can only imagine the confusion this causes at an international level...

    "Hi, I work for the Intellectual Property Office"
    "Really? So do I!"

    or alternatively:

    "Really? Which one?"
    "The UK Intellectual Property Office. No, wait...the Intellectual Property Office of the UK? Oh, God - that's even worse!..."

    *Cue breakdown of hapless staff member forced to endure the whimsical legacy-building of "here today, gone tomorrow" top-level staff.*

  3. I can sympathise with Jacob LJ. What a mouthful when talking about the Office. "The Intellectual Property Office" is eleven syllables vs. five for "The Patent Office".

  4. As the bread and butter workload goes down, the UKIPO is expanding its remit. The trouble is that much of that expanded remit is in the area of "soft skills", supporting the Government's agenda of encouraging IP etc. It is the remit that is trendy and pointless.

    From a branding perspective, it is commendable that the new branding should reflect the new activity, and the branding advisers should be congratulated.

  5. Re Guesstimate and Richardo.

    My problem with the rebranding of the office (expressed above at "anonymous 8:58") is not with changing from "the Patent Office" to "the UKIPO". Such rebranding was necessary to ensure that the "non-patent" IP work was reflected in the name of the office; this was particularly important in the eyes of stakeholders in the trade mark, copyright and design communities.

    My criticim is with the entirely unnecessary second rebranding, within a couple of years of the first, simply to remove "UK" and change the logo. Was the Office embarrassed to be associated with its country of origin? Or was it sufficiently conceited to think that everyone would automatically know that it was the UK's IP Office, as though every other IP Office in the world which was similarly branded was somehow in a different league?

    It was an indefensible waste of public money.

  6. The Honourable Lord Justice Jacob is well known by his trendy, but pointless remarks...

  7. Anon @ 1:03 is well known for his trendy but pointless comments ...

  8. Is not this whole discussion trendy but pointless ? (Does anyone here seriously think IBM needs to rebrand itself as, e.g., ICBM, in order for everyone to know that they also make computers?)

  9. The main issue with the second 'rebranding' is the pointless (but not particularly trendy) separation of 'intellectual' from 'property' - thus making it sound like the IPO is now a property office, for intellectuals, rather than anything to do with patents, TMs etc...

  10. To be fair to the IPO, no other government department's name is prefixed by "UK". But for those of us who deal with IPOs all over the world, the dropping of UK from the title, thus making the IPO appear to be the only one in the world, was an act of astonishing arrogance.

    Things have gone downhill since the Office was taken over by Wallace and Gromit, if you ask me....

  11. The operating name reflects the fact that the UKIPO is responsible for more than just dealing with patent applications. In time, the name may also help the public to recognise that there is a difference between a patent and a trade mark, and that you cannot "patent a trade mark".

  12. I don't think the name is trendy, but having arrived in the UK only in 2007, it's the only name I've ever known it as. Given the office provides information for other forms of IP in addition to Patents, I think the name is appropriate.

  13. Does anyone know the total cost of renaming the UK Patent Office (twice)? And however much it was, was this prudent use of scarce resources?

  14. Remember boyo where 'tis based - Wales. So maybe there was concern that it be associated with UKIP!

  15. It's clearly rebranding for the teletubby generation: Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and UKIPO.

  16. Just as the House of Lords now goes by the trendy but pointless name "Supreme Court".

    Sorry Jeremy to be a bit late intervening on this one, it'll probably have dropped off your page by the time I press the send button.

  17. Quoting an earlier anonymous commentator:

    "the dropping of UK from the title, thus making the IPO appear to be the only one in the world, was an act of astonishing arrogance."

    Erm, hang on a minute. No one had a problem with the name "The Patent Office" for allegedly passing itself off as the only one in the world. Exactly how stupid would you have to be not to be able to tell from the contaxt which office you are referring to?

    People really are getting their knickers in a twist over nothing. Davids repeated complaints over this for the last year are getting tedious.


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