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IPO to launch 'premium' service for processing of patent applications

Businesses will be able to obtain patent protection for their inventions within 90 days of applying for it under plans to change the way the UK's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) works.18 Dec 2012

In a speech on Monday, Business Secretary Vince Cable announced that the IPO will oversee a new "superfast patent processing service" which it said would "deliver patents in just 90 days", according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The IPO told Out-Law.com that the new scheme would be a "premium" service that businesses will be able to pay for in order to speed up the time it takes for their patent applications to be considered.

"What was mentioned in the speech is the IPO is looking to introduce a premium service which will, for an additional charge, provide rapid turnaround in the office, which if an applicant also responds rapidly would generally enable the process to be completed in 90 days," an IPO spokesperson said. "There will be no compromise in the quality of the examination service provided - this is about prioritisation of these applications, not reducing the amount of time an examiner spends on them."

"The application will be published and there will be an opportunity to make observations to the examiner on whether the patent should be granted," they added.

The level of the fee for the new service has not yet been set, the spokesperson said. 

To qualify for patent protection inventions must primarily be new, take an inventive step that is not obvious and be useful to industry. The IPO employs examiners to search through 'prior art' to check whether applications for patent protection are novel and who also examine whether they satisfy the inventive step requirements, amongst other assessments of patentability, before patents are approved and registered.

Cable also announced that the IPO would seek to reduce the amount of time it takes to examine trade mark applications in an existing fast-track procedure it operates. Currently trade mark applicants can pay a fee to the IPO to examine their applications within ten days, but Cable has announced that the process would be cut down to just five days next year.

The Business Secretary further announced that the IPO would undertake a new drive to better educate smaller businesses about "getting the best value from their creativity and innovation" and that it would also strive to help consumers to understand the importance of respecting IP rights and the harm that can occur if they do not.

In addition, the IPO will also work with City of London Police and other "key partners" to crack down on counterfeiting and online piracy, Cable said.

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