Statutory guidance

Submitting observations concerning the patentability of an invention

Directions under section 124A of the Patents Act 1977 concerning the patentability of an invention

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Use this guide for directions under section 124A of the Patents Act 1977 to direct the form and manner in which observations made by a third party, under section 21 of the Act, on the question of whether the invention is a patentable invention may be made in electronic form or using electronic communications.

The reference in these directions to the ipo.gov.uk domain name was introduced by a direction effective from 2 April 2007.

These notes are for guidance only: The formal legal instructions are set out in comptroller’s directions. These notes concern observations filed under section 21 of the Patents Act 1977.

Observations about the patentability of an invention may be sent by email to section21@ipo.gov.uk. Observations sent to any other email address may be treated as not having been delivered. Observations sent by email will receive an automatic acknowledgement when they are received by the comptroller; no further correspondence will be ordinarily entered into. E-mail addresses used to submit S21 observations are disclosed to the patent applicant unless good reasons to keep these details confidential are provided.

Computer programs should not be submitted as part of any observations. They will be considered illegible and consequently the whole of the observations may be treated as not having been delivered.

Note that observations may also be made by posting a letter or digital media such as a CD to us.

Published 17 May 2005
Last updated 16 July 2015 + show all updates
  1. Text in the detail amended to state: E-mail addresses used to submit S21 observations are disclosed to the patent applicant unless good reasons to keep these details confidential are provided.
  2. First published.