IPO cuts Waiting Time for UK Patent Clearance

Innovative businesses applying for international patents can have their UK protection fast-tracked following the launch of a new scheme by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (UK) (PCT) fast-track scheme aims to reduce waiting times for UK patents that have already passed an international test from around 18 months to just two months.

The PCT initiative will provide faster protection to UK and foreign firms planning to sell new products in Britain. This means firms could be able to bring their new products and processes to the domestic market more quickly than ever before.

Launching the scheme this week, the UK’s intellectual property minister, Baroness Wilcox, said the new scheme would aid Britain’s emergence from recession.

“Innovation is one of the main driving forces for Britain’s economic recovery. Delays in dealing with patent applications prevent firms from expanding and creating new jobs.”

“The fast-track procedure will make it quicker for businesses to turn innovation and ideas into products and jobs.”

The system for getting an international patent involves two steps: UK applicants can start the process by filing an international patent application at the IPO, the European Patent Office or the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization. This allows you to make a single initial application for a patent in 142 countries, including EU states.

Once your application has been checked by international patent authorities, you can apply for IP cover via the national patent office of each country for which you are seeking protection. This stage typically takes 18 months or more.

At the second stage, under the new fast-track scheme, firms seeking UK protection can send a written request to the IPO to accelerate their application after it has passed the international approval stage. There is no extra charge for the accelerated service.

The IPO’s report will be delivered within two months and either approve the application or list changes that the business must make before it is approved. Any major issues should have been fixed during the international phase, however.

IPO spokeswoman, Sarah Challenger, said:

“The service will give businesses an incentive to make full use of the procedures in the international phase, so that any substantial defects with the application are addressed.”

Other countries that have launched fast-track schemes currently include the USA and Japan. The IPO said that it hoped more countries would establish similar schemes to cut down the international backlog of patent requests.

Firms applying for a UK patent only can use the pre-existing fast-track scheme for British patents.

Find out about the PCT (UK) fast-track patent scheme or read the fast grant guide (PDF).

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