Guidance

Observations about patentability

You can make observations on the patentability of a published patent application.

Overview

If you think that a patent application relates to an invention which is not new or is not patentable for some other reason, then you can provide us with observations and we will take these into account when we decide whether to grant a patent.

You can only file observations after we have published a patent application. Observations must also be filed before we grant a patent, and before we issue a notification of our intention to grant a patent. It is recommended that you file any observations within three months after an application is published, as we may grant a patent after this period.

Find published patent applications

You can view published UK patent applications using our databases, or inspect the file by appointment at our offices in Newport or London.

The numbers of recently published patent applications appear in the Patents Journal.

Before making observations

You should check your observations have not already been raised, by checking the search report and file of the application for observations and other comments.

Making observations

You must make your observations in writing, either in hard copy or electronically, to the address provided below.

You should include the patent application number (for example GB0154321.0) or the publication number if you know it (for example GB2765432), and the name of the applicant.

You should also support your observations with evidence wherever possible. For example, you could provide a dated magazine or journal article which shows the invention before the application’s earliest filing date. If you claim that something is well known in the industry, you must show that this was the case before the application’s earliest filing date.

If you would like to make your observations anonymously please be aware that any personal information sent to the Office, e.g. names, postal addresses and e-mail addresses, will be open to public inspection and copied to the applicant along with your observations. If you would like these details to remain confidential you must provide reasons to support your request within 14 days of the observations being filed.

Send your observations and supporting evidence to:

Intellectual Property Office
Concept House
Cardiff Road
Newport
South Wales
NP10 8QQ
United Kingdom

Or e-mail them to us at section21@ipo.gov.uk

What happens next?

If you have given us your name and address, we will write to let you know that we have received your observations.

We will add your observations to the file for the patent, which is available to the public and on our website, and we will send a copy to the applicant.

We will consider your observations when we decide whether to grant the patent. If we make objections based on your observations, the patent applicant may respond to the arguments. You cannot be involved in discussion between the examiner and the applicant, even if they relate to your observations.

Published 16 May 2014
Last updated 4 November 2016 + show all updates
  1. Amendment of text in light of the introduction of notifications of intention to grant.
  2. Amended paragraph 4 under the heading Making observations.
  3. First published.