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Patent Pending With Changes in UK Intellectual Property

The Patent Office LogoThe Patent Office is to undergo a name change on the 2nd April to the UK Intellectual Property Office. The change was recommended in the Gower Review of Intellectual Property and is meant to reflect the wider role of the Patent Office in future.

Ron Marchant, chief executive of the Patent Office, explained that businesses built on other kinds of intellectual property such as trademarks and copyright designs have often commented that the name does not reflect all the responsibilities of the office.


"This has caused confusion over who is responsible for these other rights, and also how important we and the Government consider those rights to be," Marchant said, adding: "The role of the office will change as it takes responsibility for a wider range of intellectual property governance functions."


Comenting on the Gower report, which was ordered by Chancellor Gordon Brown, Marchant said "The report's main recommendations will help us to enforce intellectual property rights, and support British businesses both at home and abroad," said Marchant.


"These are issues we began to deal with in our own reform programme, 'Patent Office for the 21st Century'. So it is even more appropriate that these matters will be included in our corporate plan when we become the UK Intellectual Property Office. A number of changes need to be made to the law, but this does not prevent us from using our new name."


The Gowers Review investigated the legal, regulatory and commercial climate for intellectual property and was published last December. The Review looked whether a separate Copyright Office was needed, but concluded that the role and name of the Patent Office should change, reflecting oversight of all forms of intellectual property.


"The name of the Patent Office can be misleading to stakeholders," said the Review. "It suggests that the office is only concerned with patents while, in fact, it performs a broad range of functions in relation to all IP. The present name also contributes to the perception that other forms of IP, for example copyright, take a lower priority."


"Some stakeholders have suggested that a separate Copyright Office be established," Gowers stated. "There are a greater number of synergies than differences across different forms of IP. Policy, education, enforcement, business support, and awareness-raising cut across the boundaries of all IP rights. The Review has therefore decided not to recommend that a separate Copyright Office be established."


"Instead, the Patent Office should ensure that all stakeholders are given, and are seen to be given, equal consideration in IP policy. The Review therefore recommends that the name of the Patent Office should change to reflect better the functions it carries out," it said.


The name Copyright Office will be used  as "an operating name of the Patent Office" on its material until the Patent Office can change its legal name it will use the name, said Marchant. The old Patent Office logo and slogan will also change from "for innovation" to "for creativity and innovation."


The Gower Review of Intellectual Property