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The UK Intellectual Property Office – 160 years young

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UKNext year the London Underground is 150 years old. With an extensive maintenance project underway some might say it is showing its age.

The UK Intellectual Property Offfice on the other hand celebrates 160 years this year and this IPcopywriter believes it is a case of 160 years young rather than 160 years old.

There has been a lot of talk recently on the proposed regulation for the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court. Some commentators have suggested that the proposed regulation could undermine the established European patent system that is already in place.

If that’s the case then what does filing a direct UK patent application via the UK-IPO have to offer someone looking to secure patent protection in the UK?

1. Speed (1) – the UK patent application process has a built in completion date for prosecution. Patent applications need to be put in order within 4.5 years of the earliest priority/filing date (or 12 months from the first exam report if that period expires later than the 4.5 year period).

This potentially is a quicker process than prosecution at the European Patent Office where cases can fall into a kind of prosecution limbo and responses from the Examiner can take 1-2 years or maybe even longer to materialise.

2. Speed (2). The UK IPO has in my experience demonstrated the capability of moving an application through the prosecution process at some speed once accelerated prosecution has been requested. Applicants are able to ask for early search, publication and examination where, for example, there’s a commercial need to get a granted patent right.

There’s no official fee for accelerating the case and moving from filing to grant has been known to take place in as little as 7 months for some attorneys I’ve worked with.

Gaining a granted right quickly could be extremely helpful for IP rights holders concerned about potential infringers.

3. Cost – UK official fee for search and examination is around £200. Official fee for search and examination at the EPO is over 2700 Euros.

4. National phase entry – it is possible to enter the UK national phase from a PCT application at 31 months. It is noted that not all EP contracting states can be entered directly in this manner.

So, a UK patent application filed at the UKIPO has a number of attractive features. Will the number of direct UK applications and UK national phase entries from the PCT increase if and when the unitary patent comes into force? Time will tell!


  1. […] of your patent applications to try and secure an earlier grant. As noted in an earlier post here the UKIPO can already grant patents very quickly and recently announced plans by Vince Cable may […]

  2. […] – as noted in an earlier post it is possible to get a UK patent from filing through to grant in around 7 months under the current […]

  3. […] this process can be accelerated, reducing the time to grant (the UK process in particular can be noticeably accelerated). Early publication of a patent application can also be requested. This extends […]

  4. […] of your patent applications to try and secure an earlier grant. As noted in an earlier post here the UKIPO can already grant patents very quickly and recently announced plans by Vince Cable may […]

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