UK: Gowers Review published, on IP policy review

In the UK the so the “Gowers Review” has at last been published as part of UK Finance minister Gordon Brown’s pre-budget review, which finished a short while ago. Some of the key recommendations include a recommendation for a fast track registration system for trade marks to allow marks to be examined and accepted within 10 days of the application being filed. Although there are some interesting recommendations in many areas, they remain, of course, recommendations only at this stage. The Review aims to ensure the correct balance in IP rights and to foster competitive and innovative markets strengthen enforcement of IP rights (particularly to protect the UK’s creative industries from piracy and counterfeiting for the benefit of consumers) and to provide support for businesses using the IP system.

The main recommendations for patents are:

  • Recommendation 1: Amend section 60(5) of the Patents Act 1977 to clarify the research exception to facilitate experimentation, innovation and education. (page 51)
  • Recommendation 22: Maintain a high quality of patents awarded by increasing the use of “section 21” observations: streamlining procedures and raising awareness. (page 88
  • Recommendation 25a: Introduce accelerated grant process for patents to complement the accelerated examination and combined patent search and examination procedures. (page 90)
  • Recommendation 30a: The Patent Office should publish and maintain an open standards web database, linked to the EPO’s esp@cenet web database, containing all patents issued under licence of right. (page 94)
  • Recommendation 30b: The Patent Office should publish and maintain an open standards web database, linked to esp@cenet containing all expired patents. (page 95)
  • Recommendation 23: The Patent Office should conduct a pilot of Beth Noveck’s Community Patent Review in 2007 in the UK to determine whether this would have a positive impact on the quality of the patent stock. (page 90). Such a review is is intended to harness the collective knowledge of experts through the internet in order to help patent examiners find the right citations. The public is invited to submit prior art via a webpage, which can then be rated by the community. The aim is to ensure that bad patent applications are not granted and to narrow claims in applications in order to narrow the scope of protection.
  • Recommendation 25a: Introduce accelerated grant process for patents to complement the accelerated examination and combined patent search and examination procedures. (page 90)
  • Recommendation 17: Maintain policy of not extending patent rights beyond their present limits within the areas of software, business methods and genes. (page 80)
  • Other Recommendation refer to support for the establishment of a single Community Patent, the EPLA and the London Agreement (as an interim step towards COMPAT, and as an improvement in its own right).
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