By Claire West
Measures to make the international system of patent application faster and more effective were announced today by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) with changes to the UK’s Fast Track system. These moves come as part of a wider effort by the UK and US intellectual property authorities to get more businesses to use the PCT system.
The UK’s Fast Track system, originally introduced in June 2010 with the aim of getting business’ patents granted faster and more cheaply, will now give applicants the chance to make changes to an international application, and still have the opportunity to request accelerating processing in the UK. This change removes a bureaucratic hurdle and increases the flexibility and accessibility of the patent application process.
The PCT system helps businesses and other applicants save money and time with a more efficient way of gaining global protection for their patents. It also helps reduce the current backlog of patent applications estimated to be costing the global economy more than £7 billion a year. Fewer than 10 per cent of the two million applications for worldwide patent protection use the PCT system at present.
In an effort to boost use of the PCT, the UKIPO, working in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), have developed a strategy, called PCT 20/20, that will help improve the quality of the system and make it easier to use.
John Alty, UKIPO’s Chief Executive, said:
"The PCT has been a remarkable success with patent applicants since its inception and undoubtedly helped make the global patent system more efficient. That's good news for both businesses and IP offices, but further improvements 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."
USPTO Director Dave Kappos said:
"The PCT has been a very successful work-sharing system in the international patent community. We feel that the system can be further improved in a manner that will benefit users, offices and all PCT member states. Accordingly, in cooperation with our colleagues from the UKIPO, we have developed a number of suggestions for PCT improvement and included them in the PCT 20/20 proposal."
The UK IPO will be working with the USPTO, the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and other international partners to develop and implement the ideas in the PCT 20/20.