The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has recently published its annual report which outlines the role that the IPO played over the last year in supporting the UK’s innovation ecosystem.
An all-time record of 10,798 patents were granted over the 12-month period measured by the report, and the IPO delivered 96.9% of requests for an accelerated two-month turnaround for search, publication, and examination. This has effectively eliminated their backlog of overdue examination requests.
Similarly, the number of trademark applications hit a new record, with an input of 187,000 applications, and an increase of 16.1% on the previous year. Of these, 152,000 were received via the national IPO route, which is 8% higher than the previous year. 216,000 domestic and international trademark applications were examined, with the average examination time having returned to the pre-pandemic standard of 5-15 days.
Designs also saw a record year with over 70,000 applications, an increase of 71.8% on the previous year, predominantly from international applications. This is surprising given that the UK only became a member to the Hague Agreement for the International Registration of Industrial Designs in 2018. The Hague system is administered by the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization and allows for design registration in 77 contracting parties covering 94 countries by filing a single international application.
Financial Support for innovators
Over 300 applications for funding support from high-growth-potential SMEs were received, valuing the funding scheme at £1.39m. In addition, 568 business were supported by the IP Audits Scheme which provided part-funding towards a specialised service carried out by an IP professional.
The One IPO Transformation Programme is aimed at updating the IPO systems to provide a single, integrated system for all registered IP rights. In the last year, the programme has launched the new digital renewals service, developed prototypes for the Manage IP project, which is developing new IPO customer accounts, and finalized the design phase of the fully digital Secure IP application service. Other developing projects include Research IP for new search and analysis tools, and Challenge IP to enable digital access for hearings and tribunals.
Finally, the IPO Futures Group was created to increase understanding of future opportunities and challenges for IP posed by technological developments. To achieve this, the group held horizon-scanning workshops and identified the metaverse, blockchain, NFTs, the future licensing environment for IP, and the social value of IP as priority themes for further exploration.