In April 2021, the UK IPO launched the "One IPO" digital transformation programme, which is a five year programme to transform the IPO services for the digital age. The centrepiece of the programme is a single integrated system for all registered intellectual property, to enable users to apply for and manage their IP in a one-stop-shop system.
From November 2022 to January 2023, the government ran a consultation on the potential legislative and system changes required to implement the new programme, focusing on improvements to patent services in the first instance. The government's response was published on 1 August 2023.
The government has now begun a second consultation, focusing on proposed changes to trade marks and designs services, with some proposals for patents and tribunals. The deadline for responses to the second consultation is 11.59pm on 31 October 2023.
The government's response to the first consultation included proposals for:
- Services 24/7: customers should have access to new digital services 24/7 however deadlines related to IP applications that fall on weekends or public holidays will continue to be deferred to the next working day
- Self service for represented customers: digital customer accounts that allow both customers and their representatives to view and manage their IP online
- Legislative changes: the government will consider amending legislation to support new IPO processes or practices, including giving the IPO more powers to direct the form and content of patent applications and removing fees for certain services
- Changes to IP hearings and tribunals: proposed changes include amending the rules on IPO case management powers to provide for expedited hearings and allowing hearing officers to strike out or give summary judgments, in line with the rules for patents.
The second consultation focuses on trade marks and designs services, in particular:
- Series marks: whether series marks are still functioning effectively given the high objection rates for incorrect use
- Ways to encourage mediation within tribunals
- A new online public document inspection service for trade mark and design applications
- Proposals to align the rules on inspection and when customers can request confidentiality with the rules for patents
- Proposals to stop publishing the full addresses of inventors on patents and limit it to country and place of residence
- Extending the period in which SPC fees must be paid
Responses to the consultation can be made here: IPO Transformation programme: second consultation - Intellectual Property Office - Citizen Space. The deadline is 11.59pm on 31 October. Contact us if you would like any further information or assistance.