News story

UK to fast-track international patent applications

Prime Minister David Cameron today launched a new fast-track procedure for approving international patent applications that will cut waiting times by more than a year.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The UK is among the first to introduce such a fast-track scheme. The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) today introduced the scheme to help tackle the worldwide backlog of patent applications, which costs the global economy an estimated £7.6 billion a year.

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.

She said:

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.

Notes to editors

  • London Economics produced a report into the impact of the global patent backlog on behalf of the IPO.  For more information go to here.
  • For more information on the PCT click here.
  • The IPO has published technical guidance detailing how the service will work.  It is available here.
  • Guidance on how existing fast-track procedures work is available here.
  • For media enquiries about the Intellectual Property Office please contact Paul Conroy on 020 7215 5303.

Updates to this page

Published 28 May 2010