The UKIPO transformation programme
The UKIPO launched a transformation programme to modernise their trade mark and design services by the end of 2025. The aim is to replace their existing processes with a fully digitalised system in line with increased volume of work and customer demand.
The programme is currently going through a second consultation, which will run for ten weeks until 31 October 2023 (i.e. deadline for participants to file a response). A response to the UKIPO consultation can be filed by using a form on Citizen Space (see here), or by sending an email to TransformationConsultation@ipo.gov.uk.
Specifically, there are six proposed changes to the current UKIPO processes. These include:
- Online public document inspection service for trade marks and designs:
The UKIPO is seeking views on the proposal to introduce an online inspection service for trade marks and designs, to facilitate public access to documents.
- Public inspection of trade mark and design documents and requests for confidentiality:
There is a public interest in making documents relating to IP rights available quickly, but customers must protect their confidential information. For patents, confidentiality can be requested within fourteen days after filing a document, but there is no delay in making the document publicly available in the meantime. The IPO proposes to adopt a similar system for trade marks and designs.
- Series trade marks:
Series trade marks are several trade marks that are similar yet different only in minor, non-distinctive characters that do not substantially affect the identity of the trade mark.
There is a high objection rate of unrepresented series mark applications and no refunds are issued for invalid applications. Therefore, the UKIPO is exploring proposals to reduce such objection rate, including by reducing the number of marks permitted in a series.
- Length of patent supplementary protection certificate (SPC) fee payment periods:
The UKIPO is looking into extending the SPC fee payment period from three to six months.
- Collection and publication of addresses for patent inventors:
The government is considering no longer including full addresses for investors in the patents register in favour of their country and place of residence/employment only (e.g. Oxford, UK). This would reduce the address data included in the register and the personal data that the UKIPO makes available online.
- Ways to encourage more mediation during IPO tribunal proceedings.
The UKIPO would like to encourage more mediation with the introduction of a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) during proceedings.
The UK already has a world leading IP environment, but a service for innovators must itself innovate. By digitalising and transforming the UKIPO services, IP rights will be more accessible to entrepreneurs and creators. Improved use of IP will accelerate UK innovation and help to enhance UK economic growth.