Patent application waiting times to be cut by 'more than a year'

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a new fast-track procedure for approving international patent applications

The UK is among the first to introduce such a fast-track scheme.The Prime Minister said: “Today we announce a new fast-track system for international patents to reduce the global backlog which stifles growth and enterprise and costs the global economy £7.6 billion for every year patents are delayed.”

Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Wilcox welcomed the announcement saying: “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.

“It is essential that businesses can take ideas from the drawing board to the market as quickly as possible.  Securing a patent is an integral part of that process.

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

“Britain is leading the way in identifying and dealing with the patent backlog.  I hope other countries will establish similar fast-track schemes to tackle this problem.”

The new procedure will apply to applications filed under the international Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).  The UK is one of 142 countries which have signed up to the Treaty.

Under the PCT, applications undergo a preliminary assessment of their patentability before being passed to individual nations to consider the details.  The Treaty aims to stop work being duplicated when an applicant wants patent protection for the same invention in several countries.

Now businesses and individuals can apply for their application to be dealt with under the PCT (UK) Fast-Track when it has been approved in the international phase.

Applicants requesting the fast-track service will receive an examination report within two months.  Under current timescales this could take more than 18 months.

The examination report will either approve the application or detail any changes needed before a UK patent can be granted.  Any substantial issues will have been addressed in the international phase.

The UK is among the first to introduce a fast–track procedure.  It is hoped other countries will establish similar schemes to encourage applicants to make full use of the international phase.  This will help deal with the global backlog of patent applications.

The new scheme will work in the same way as the IPO’s existing fast-track procedures, which include the ‘Green Channel’ for inventions with environmental benefits.

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