Those who have first-hand experience of the patent system in the UK, or any other country, know that obtaining a granted patent does not happen quickly. Typically it can take anywhere from two to five years from filing to actually have a granted enforceable right in your hands.
In the UK, at least, there are a number of mechanisms for speeding the process up, such that if all the pieces fall into place a patent can be obtained within a year from filing. However, the UK patent office has recently consulted on a new “superfast” patent processing service that aims to be able to deliver granted patents in around 90 days from filing. If the service delivers on this promise it will truly make the UK the Usain Bolt of the patent world, putting the patent offices of most other countries to shame.
The system as it is currently being proposed would vastly speed up the patenting process in return for a non-refundable fee “in the region of £3,500 – £4,000”. These fees will be in addition to the usual statutory fees, which currently total £230. The patent application will still need to meet the usual criteria in order to be granted, and the UK Patent Office will still perform a detailed assessment of whether the invention being claimed is new and inventive. The applicant must therefore be able to meet some rather tight deadlines in order to deal with objections raised by the patent examiner, or risk losing the superfast status of the application.
Under the proposed scheme the application will be published around 50 days from filing, rather than the typical 18-month period. This could be undesirable if the applicant is hoping to keep their invention under wraps prior to a product launch, for example.
In our view the high cost may limit the appeal of this superfast service. Under the current system an applicant that has a genuine reason for needing a speedy grant can obtain a patent in around 12 months, without an additional fee. A £4,000 price tag will simply not be justified in the majority of cases in order to obtain nine additional months of patent protection, except in cases where, for example, the applicant is aware of an infringer who may imminently start selling in the UK. However, for those wishing to take advantage of the patent box tax relief system, the superfast scheme may provide an ideal route for quickly obtaining a qualifying right, and the money saved in tax may easily justify the higher fees.
This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking before any action in reliance on it.