Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet ... IPO search for Latin lovers?

Filemot bear has his own way of searching ...
The IPKat has been busily chatting to his friends at the UK Intellectual Property Office about their plans for Ipsum-- an exciting new online patent file system, the Beta version of which is being sprung on an unsuspecting world this morning.  The IPO hopes to launch the full service, with more functionality and documents, in October.of this year.  In the meantime, this Kat entered into a workshare agreement with his good friend, patent fiend and Filemot bear-keeper Barbara Cookson.  The deal was that Barbara would trial the system while the IPKat would decide what "Ipsum" stands for.

First, here's Barbara's review:
The UK IPO bears all – well almost
If you are an avid follower of the Westlaw UK current awareness, did you wonder why the UK IPO put out two page updates within a quarter of an hour of each other on Thursday, 14 April ? They related to directions given by John Alty on 8 April that came into force that day to show how a request for uncertified copies of documents from a patent file would be fulfilled. In one version they are to be viewed online and in another they are to be provided by email or on compact disc. The latter version requires a fee. The online version is free and anybody can use it any time without bothering to file any of those tedious forms. How do they do that ? The answer is simple  - with  IPSUM – an exciting online new form of the patent register. 
 The beta version of the new IPSUM database is to be found at http://www.ipo.gov.uk/p-ipsum/
I looked for one of my old patents that had been granted in 2002 and found its case details neatly documented in alternating grey and white stripes. There were, however no documents, but there was a tidy list of the forms that had been filed  displayed with their dates. The case history was also there -- also presented in those nicely legible grey and white stripes. 
 The display of citations allows you to go straight to Espacenet [the service formerly known as Esp@cenet] to look at them. In Firefox, they kindly opened for me in a new tab.  On at least one file the Chinese and Japanese citations did not have Espacenet links.
 At the moment, you can only view by application number or  publication number, but that's just the same as the good old patents status enquiry. The existing searchable patents Journal http://www.ipo.gov.uk/pro-types/pro-patent/pro-p-os/pro-p-journal/p-pj  gives you lots more search options to find numbers relating to patents that you might be curious about. 
 For more recent applications the documents tab is populated and you can download everything as a PDF or just click on the View word next to each document for instant gratification. 
 If you search an unpublished application, you get case details but that little window on the right, inviting you into other aspects of the case, has disappeared and there are no documents or anything else to be seen. The status tells you it is “patent in force” and of course all you seasoned patent attorneys  and  lawyers will realise that a pending application is a pending application and not a patent.  The IPO have promised to deliver a more correct version of the status in due course. 
 For applications where the bibliographic details have not yet been published in the journal, you get a red warning message “This application is not yet published.” 
The documents on display are only for applications published after 1 January 2008. Rather disappointingly, it promises to show  only *most*correspondence sent by the IPO after 1  November 2010. The very bad and sad news is that I don't seem to be able to access correspondence sent to the IPO at all.  This is very disappointing. The EPO and the USPTO do not discriminate in their disclosure and it's very helpful in due diligence. I imagine the excuse will be copyright reasons, but surely I can only be looking at the patent application for research purposes or legal proceedings and these are permitted acts. Hopefully Hargreaves will propose a robust fair use provision that can be implemented in the UK without treading on Brussels' toes and we can see the whole file. After all, for a modest fee I could buy copies of those letters but then, presumably, they are being treated as public records for copyright purposes. Nevertheless, I suppose half the file is better than none.  Since we don't have a doctrine of file wrapper estoppel in the UK, it may well be safer just to look at the amendments - and these pages all seem to be there for the latest files.
This Kat hypothesises that "Ipsum" stands for one of the following:

* "Intellectual Property Search ...um"
* "Interactive personal search utility, mate"
* "IPO Programmers Solve Ultimate Mystery"

What do readers think?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit -- and more, here
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet ... IPO search for Latin lovers? Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet ... IPO search for Latin lovers? Reviewed by Jeremy on Monday, April 18, 2011 Rating: 5


  1. "We take the Gee out of Gypsum...?"

  2. Ipsum-Beta currently online includes Crown copyright documents because of copyright issues.

    However, there is currently a Consultation on Amending the Patents Act to provide for online patent document inspection at:


    It proposes amending the Patents Act 1977 to provide for a relevant exception to copyright to enable the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to introduce online inspection services for documents which have been sent to the IPO, and therefore are not Crown copyright.

    The IPO welcomes any views & comments by Tuesday 26th April by email to:


    Intellectual Property Office

  3. I'm sorry to say this, but the exclusion of correspondence from the agent/applicant is just pathetic.

    Even worse is the fact that there does not appear to be an explanation of why those documents are unavailable. If you're going to launch a service like this with such a gaping hole in it then you need to manage expectations and explain why things are the way they are. Is this the way it will always be, or is anything being done/going to be done to remedy the situation and turn this into a proper/complete online file inspection?

    The list of available/unavailable documents is here.

    Missing documents include submitted UK IPO forms. How on earth can there be any problem with making a Form 1 or Form 7 available?

    The lack of agent/applicant correspondence means that there's no detail of what prosecution actions have been taken, what amendments have been made, why, what arguments have been presented etc. etc.

    It might be that there is some kind of a copyright problem, but if there is then fix it - the UK IPO has had more than enough time to do this.

    I had really been looking forward to online file inspection from the UK IPO. However, this is desperately disappointing :(

  4. "Instant Perusal: Saves Unnecessary Mailings"

  5. Regarding correspondence sent to the IPO, the reason it's not there is because the IPO belives that these count as copyright works and that we don't have the right to make them available to the public. (You are of course correct that the USPTO and the EPO don't appear to have these qualms.) Anyhow, the plan is to change the law so that we can, and then include the documents on Ipsum. The expected date for this is October. The annuncements have been low-key so far, partly because we don't include incoming correspondence yet, partly because not many cases are up yet (you can't see the full documents for cases that were dealt with before we planned Ipsum, just in case there's problems...) and partly so as not to overload the system with a sudden rush. I expect we'll make a bigger song and dance of it come October when the system is more complete. (And then get criticised for pretending it's all new, when it's been up and running for months...)

    There were several explanations of the name Ipsum, but I forget what they were. The name was chosen from an in-house competition.

  6. What's the difference between the IPO issuing copies at a file inspection and online? A wider class of likely user, perhaps - I would love my beautifully crafted responses to be turned into wallpaper!

  7. The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is grateful to Barbara Cookson for reviewing Ipsum-Beta and noted her disappointment that it does not contain letters sent to the IPO. This is because putting documents which are not Crown copyright, such as incoming letters, online would be an infringement. However, there is currently a Consultation on Amending the Patents Act to provide for online patent document inspection at:


    It proposes amending the Patents Act 1977 to provide for a relevant exception to copyright to enable the IPO to introduce online inspection services for documents which are not Crown copyright.

    The IPO would welcome any responses to the consultation by Tuesday 26th April by email to consultation@ipo.gov.uk

    The name Ipsum stands for “the sum of information on patents” but also in Latin means "the very thing itself". This is a nod to the Latin origin of “patent” and the fact that the service allows users to see the very documents themselves.

  8. Must apologise for the "pathetic" language in the comment above - unfair and inappropriate.

    Comments from the UK IPO much appreciated regarding the proposed law changes.

  9. As from 1 October we may expect to see the rest of the file following the making of a new statutory instrument which means that the IPO are not infringing copyright by making documents available to the public. See the SI 2059 of 2O11


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