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Trends in UK IP analysed


19th Jan 2017

The UK Intellectual Property Office has published some Fast Facts for 2017. The report outlines filing statistics for patents, trademarks and designs during 2015, and throws in some interesting information about the IPO and IP in general.

According to the report, the UK IP system was ranked at number 3 in Taylor Wessing’s Global IP Index published in 2016 for obtaining, exploiting and enforcing IP rights. Further, UK investment in intangible assets protected by intellectual property rights is said to have risen from £47 billion in 2000 to £70 billion in 2014. Moreover, the figures show more UK investment in intangible assets than tangible assets, all of which reinforces the trend in the UK over recent years towards a knowledge based economy. On the other hand, IP crime is reported to cost the UK economy hundreds of millions of pounds each year, with organised crime gangs causing significant damage to industry.

22,801 patent applications were made to the IPO in 2015, with 14,870 made by UK applicants, placing the IPO as the world’s 12th largest IP office, in terms of patent filings. Both statistics are remarkably consistent with the previous year’s figures. Indeed, the number of UK patent applications has been consistently around the 23,000 mark since 2012, indicating an encouraging continuation in the level of uptake of the services offered by the UKIPO. Notably, the number of patent applications actually granted is up by 9% on last year, which we see as encouraging news for applicants, following a decrease in the number of UK patents granted in both 2014 and 2013. Whether the recent increase can be attributed to a pro-patentee shift at the IPO, or measures implemented by the IPO to speed up procedures, however, remains to be seen.

The report also identifies 5,037 made to the European Patent Office by UK applicants – a 7% rise on last year, maintaining the UK’s ranking as the 9th most prolific filer of European patent applications. However, according to EPO statistics, if the figures are adjusted per capita, the UK’s ranking drops to 16th behind some of our European neighbours, including Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria and Belgium, suggesting that despite encouraging figures on IP investment, there is still room for improvement when it comes to protecting technical IP in Europe.

The number of UK trade mark applications filed in 2015, at 54,320, shows a 6% increase compared to 2014, and continues a year on year increase in the number of trade mark applications filed over the last 5 years. As reported in our earlier blog, however, there have been some IP developments which might have affected this figure, notably, the 2015 Sofaworks v Sofa Workshop decision.

The report also notes a 31% increase in the number of UK design applications filed during 2015, which the report links with the launch of the IPO’s new digital “Apply for a Design Service” launched that year. We predict a further increase in UK design filings, following a drop in fees which came into place in October last year, which has significantly reduced the cost of obtaining design protection in the UK.

The Fast Facts document comes too early to provide an indication of the impact of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, or continued developments to the Unitary Patent, with the Unified Patents Court expected to open this December, and the UPC provisional application phase scheduled to begin in May. However, we predict a continued increase in the figures for 2016 and 2017, as applicants worried about the introduction of the UPC experiment with the national filing route, and the UK coverage of European-wide trade mark and design rights comes into question in the wake of the UK’s referendum decision to leave the European Union.

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 any action in reliance on it.

Author
Georgina Ainscow
Senior Associate
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Would you like to know more? You can talk to Georgina Ainscow who will be able to help. Call +44 (0)20 7242 0901

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