The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) recently released its Innovation and Growth Report 2021-22. While the report contains many insights into how the office will support the UK “to become the most innovative and creative country in the world”, some of its most interesting talking points are dramatic rises in patent, trade mark and design filings.
The overall highlight is that the UKIPO granted 10,798 patents in 2021-2022 — the highest number in over 30 years.
In situations where accelerated prosecution was requested, the UKIPO met its two-month turnaround target to issue the subsequent communication in 96.9% of cases. This achievement is particularly impressive when set against its target of 90% and given that we are seeing more acceleration requests filed than ever before (partially driven by the growth of green and sustainable technologies, accelerated using the Green Channel scheme).
The report also highlights a major potential benefit in using the UKIPO as the first filing office. As a consequence of the UKIPO more commonly outsourcing its patent search to the European Patent Office (EPO), use of the PCT direct process is now open. We have found that this provides applicants with early insight into patent filing strategies in a highly cost-effective manner.
The UKIPO also received a record level of trade mark applications in 2021-2022 — an increase of over 16% on the previous period.
This may be unsurprising, given that (post-Brexit) there is a requirement for national UK protection which may previously have been secured through an EU trade mark. However, the fact that this demonstrates that the UK remains an important market for brand protection is encouraging. It also reaffirms that our advice to clients to secure both EU and UK national trade marks is one being widely adopted.
Additionally, while at the start of 2022 new trade mark applications took around three months to examine, this has now been reduced to the UKIPO’s previous standard of five to fifteen days. This is positive news for applicants — particularly those in fast-moving fields — where delays in registration can cause significant issues.
The UKIPO also saw a record year for registered design applications, with over 71,200 placed on file. This growth was mainly due to an increased number of applications from the international route (this being unavailable to applicants before the UK joined the Hague Agreement in 2018), but also benefits from a post-Brexit bounce.
Examination times have also been reduced to the same five to fifteen days — and again, the data shows just how important the UK market still is for designs post-Brexit.
Another successful year
Overall, it’s clear that the UKIPO has had another highly successful year. Filings have increased across the board while the office’s exceptionally high customer service standards have been maintained. Further, the UKIPO’s fees remain very low, especially considering the quality of work delivered. For these reasons, any European filing strategy should consider UK national protection.
When coupled with the excellent reputation of UK qualified patent and trade mark attorneys, and a hugely respected court system, it’s clear the UK remains at the forefront of IP protection.