International patent system to be simplified

Businesses are to benefit from a faster and more efficient system when applying for international patents due to a relaxation of rules, says the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO).

Applicants going through the patent process will now have the opportunity to make changes to an international application, while still having the opportunity to request accelerating the process in the UK.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), in which the UKIPO sits, says the change will remove 'bureaucratic hurdles' of the UK's Fast Track system and increase the flexibility and accessibility of the patent application process.

The joint move between the UK and US intellectual property authorities is aiming to encourage more businesses to use the system, which was introduced in June 2010 to grant business patens more quickly and cheaply.

Two million applications for worldwide patent protections are currently being processed, with only 10 per cent of making use of the Fast Track system. The changes, known as the PCT 20/20 strategy, will be implemented to boost the use of the system, focusing on simplification and reduced fees.

The Government hopes the move will reduce the current backlog of patent applications, estimated to be costing the global economy more than £7 billion a year.

John Alty, chief executive of the UKIPO, said that the Fast Track System had been a success, but that 'further improvements would have the potential to deliver significant benefits.'

"Working together, the USPTO and the UKIPO have set out a compelling vision for PCT 20/20. We have also improved the PCT (UK) Fast Track system to the advantage of applicants who will experience a more straightforward system as will applicants new to the process. We want our proposals to spark debate and drive forward positive change."

The UK IPO has also set out proposals to improve the intellectual property dispute resolution service to give more power to small businesses defending themselves against infringement allegations made by others. It is currently seeking views from businesses on how to improve the service.

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