Legal news

Changes to the international patent system

Measures to make the international system of patent application faster and more effective were announced last week by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO), with changes to the UK’s Fast Track system.

These moves come as part of a wider effort by the UK and US intellectual property authorities to get more businesses to use the PCT system.

The UK’s Fast Track system, originally introduced in June 2010 with the aim of getting business’ patents granted faster and more cheaply, will now give applicants the chance to make changes to an international application, and still have the opportunity to request accelerating processing in the UK. This change removes a bureaucratic hurdle and aims to increase the flexibility and accessibility of the patent application process.

The PCT system should help businesses and other applicants save money and time with a more efficient way of gaining global protection for their patents. The hope is that it will also help reduce the current backlog of patent applications estimated to be costing the global economy more than £7 billion a year. Fewer than 10 per cent of the two million applications for worldwide patent protection use the PCT system at present.

In an effort to boost use of the PCT, the UKIPO, working in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), have developed a strategy, called PCT 20/20, that will help improve the quality of the system and make it easier to use.

“ Working together, the USPTO and the UKIPO have set out a compelling vision for PCT 20/20,” said John Alty, UKIPO’s Chief Executive. “We have also improved the PCT(UK) Fast Track system to the advantage of applicants who will experience a more straightforward system as will applicants new to the process. We want our proposals to spark debate and drive forward positive change."

The UK IPO will be working with the USPTO, the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and other international partners to develop and implement the ideas in the PCT 20/20.


June  2012


  • Long leases bill (28 June 2012)
  • Consultation on reform of insurance law (26 June 2012)
  • New Managing Partner and Chairman for Dundas & Wilson (25 June 2012)
  • A ‘more open and just’ justice system (21 June 2012)
  • Appointment of new Lord Justice Clerk (20 June 2012)
  • EU strategy against human trafficking (19 June 2012)
  • More efficient workplace dispute resolution (15 June 2012)
  • Commissioner issues first decisions (13 June 2012)
  • Changes to the international patent system (11 June 2012)
  • Appointment of Lord President and Senators (08 June 2012)
  • Scrapping metal theft (06 June 2012)
  • Proposed new EU Regulation re electronic ID schemes (05 June 2012)