Our services are centred around intellectual property that can be registered. We protect innovation, design, and branding across all sectors of industry, and at all stages in the supply chain.

For each IP right we offer services covering strategic advice, pre-registration searches, registrations and renewals, oppositions and dispute resolution. We handle work throughout the world, working with local colleagues in over 100 countries.


Our attorneys specialise in one or more sectors of industry, which enables them to provide quality advice with a commercial focus.

Our patent specialists have detailed understanding of the background technology, which ensures that your patent applications are prepared with the correct scope, reducing the likelihood of challenges from third parties and objections from the patent office.

They also advise whether other forms of protection would be more appropriate. Our brand specialists work with brand managers for leading brands and their advice is commercially focussed making sure that you get the best value from your budget.

The UK Space Strategy in Action


National Space Strategy

The UK has developed a thriving space economy worth over £16.4 billion annually, employing more than 45,000 people [1]. Particularly, the UK has proven its capability in the manufacture of satellites, spacecraft, highly complex payloads, end-to-end satellite service delivery, satellite communications, and high-end navigation systems.

The government has published a number of documents setting out the National Strategy in recent years.

In September 2021, the UK government published the nations’ first National Space Strategy (NSS) to improve on these established subsectors, with ambitions to branch out into other high-growth areas including Earth Observation, navigation applications and services, and satellite broadband [2].

The NSS timeline consists of four phases:

  1. Countdown Phase (2021): Publishing numerous interrelated strategies including the NSS, the Defence Space Strategy and the Space Weather Preparedness Strategy
  2. Ignition Phase (2022-23): Implementing the NSS
  3. Thrust Phase (2024-30): Benefits of the strategy embed themselves into the UK economy
  4. Orbit Phase (2030onwards): The NSS will be re-evaluated against its Goals

The NSS, outlines a 10-year vision for the UK to incorporate defence, regulatory framework, science and technology. The document is 53 pages in length, in brief, the NSS identifies five strategic Goals, four ‘Pillars’ that set out how the UK will achieve those Goals, and a 10 Point Plan that delineates initial focus areas, each incorporating at least one of the four Pillars.

A significant portion of the report relates to the actions that will be taken by acting across the four Pillars:

  • Unlocking growth in the space sector
  • Collaborating internationally
  • Growing the UK as a science and technology superpower
  • Developing resilient space capabilities and services

Emphasis was placed on investment in infrastructure. Investment from the public sector alone was said to be insufficient, an increase in private sector investment is necessary for the UK to remain competitive in the global market. The aim is to make the UK a more attractive area for investment and growth. In order to provide greater certainty and confidence to investors, The National Security and Investment Act 2021 was introduced. The framework protects certain companies and organisations from technology appropriation and unfavourable foreign acquisition.

National Space Strategy in Action

In July 2023, the National Space Strategy in Action (NSSA) was published. The NSSA defines the next steps that the UK will take in delivering the NSS, transitioning from the Ignition Phase to the Thrust Phase. Between publication of the NSS and the NSSA, the government has announced more than £10 billion in funding for space activities stretching across the decade [3].

Overall, the NSSA details how the NSS is currently being delivered, that is, through the four general Pillars and the 10 Point Plan. Alongside the 10 Point Plan, the NSSA reports that the government has altered the way it operates, to make a more coordinated effort in delivery of the framework outlined in the NSS. To do this, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and the Ministry of Defence have jointly brought together space departments which are overseen by the National Space Council as a new Inter-Ministerial Group.

Space Industrial Plan

At Space-Comm Expo 2024, Minister of State for Science, Research and Innovation, Andrew Griffith, announced the launch of the Space Industrial Plan (SIP). Building on the NSS and NSSA, the SIP establishes how the Thrust Phase will be delivered until 2030.

The NSS received some criticism for its lack of clarity in what it aimed to achieve; for example, one of the Goals was to ‘promote the values of global Britain.’ However, the SIP establishes clearer expectations, focusing on delivering national space capabilities in five key areas [4]:

  • Space Domain Awareness
  • In-Orbit Servicing
  • Space data for Earth
  • Position, Navigation and Timing
  • Satellite Communication Technology

To foster growth and diversity in the ecosystem, the UK government is ensuring that SMEs will have a voice in government policy development and activity. In addition, industry associations such as the ESA Business Incubator, UK Satellite Applications Accelerator and Unlocking Space for Investment programmes will aid in commercialising innovation within UK industrial and academic communities.

Looking at the Numbers

A joint report by PwC and the UK Space Agency, published in May 2023, provides an insight into how the UK is currently fairing from an investment point of view [5]. There are a number of promising statistics in the report:

  • Globally, the number of unique investors into space companies grew from 274 to 558 between 2020 and 2022
  • Since 2015, the UK is the 2nd leading investment destination of private space capital, behind the US
  • The number of space companies operating in the UK grew annually by an average of 23% to reach over 1,590 in 2022
  • The number of VCs active in the UK space sector has more than doubled from 2019 to 2021

The above statistics are a mere fraction of the positives that the UK can take from this report. Another area where the UK is currently thriving is research. Domestically, there are 83 research centres, 64 space test facilities and 53 universities with active space research functions. It is clear that the UK is currently a healthy investment landscape for space investment. Correct execution of the NSS will ensure that this continues to be the case.

An Intellectual Property Perspective

Figure 1: Graph showing number of publications by a GB applicant for CPC classification B64/G

Patent applications that are given a B64/G classification involve subject matter that relates to “Cosmonautics; Vehicles or Equipment therefor”. As can be seen in Figure 1, UK companies have been filing an increasing number of patent applications relating to the space sector – this is a positive sign, indicating growth driven by technological developments. Nevertheless, when we compare this data with that of other spacefaring European countries, the UK has some ways to go in order to establish itself as an international powerhouse in the space industry.

Figure 2: Graph showing number of publications by European applicants for CPC classification B64/G

Over the last 10 years the UK has lagged behind France (FR) and Germany (DE). Although, in recent years the UK has made noticeable progress while FR and DE are showing signs of stagnation. If the NSS achieves its aims then we should see a continuation in the UK’s upward trend over the next five years and beyond.

In any technology based business, but particularly for start-ups and growing SMEs, an intellectual property portfolio and strategy is key to attracting investment and driving growth. The government strategy documents outlined above make very little mention of intellectual property. I hope the government recognises that providing support for companies around IP, and patents in particular, is an effective use of funds to drive the growth they want. Both public and private sector support will be key for space companies in the UK to protect their innovation and compete on an international scale.

As stated in my previous blog, companies working in the space sector, and in particular those whose inventions are used in space, face unique challenges when it comes to protecting their innovation. Careful drafting and a detailed knowledge of both the legal background and technical aspects of an invention can usually enable robust protection for innovation in the space sector.

At Reddie & Grose LLP, we have the specialist knowledge and experience required to draft meaningful and commercially useful patents for our clients, taking into account an understanding of how and where inventions are to be deployed, as well as a detailed understanding of the underlying technical concepts. If you work in the space sector and would like to know how you can best protect your innovations, please get in contact with one of our specialist attorneys.

[1] UK Space Industry: Size and Health Report, 2020

[2] UK National Space Strategy, 2021

[3] National Space Strategy in Action, 2023

[4] Space Industrial Plan, 2024

[5] Expanding frontiers: The down to earth guide to investing in space, PWC, May 2023

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.

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