The UK government has rejigged the process for filing patents in Europe, which the Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Wilcox said would help bring down costs for Blighty's businesses.
From 1 January 2011 anyone supplying paperwork to the European Patent Office (EPO) will be able to do so with fewer documents than had been required in the past.
More ReadingIPO finally begins peer review pilot to test patent applicationsParliamentary committee suspends intellectual property rights inquiryGoogle insists it couldn't have been British. Excuse me?Scaled-down EU patent system moves a step closer to approvalGovt asks businesses for views on intellectual property
“Reducing the burden of bureaucracy saves businesses time and money. It is essential in creating the conditions for businesses to grow and prosper," said Wilcox.
“These new arrangements will make it cheaper and easier for UK firms to obtain patent protection as they look to expand into other European countries."
The EPO allows companies to make one application for patent protection in up to 40 European countries, but a patent attorney is required to draw up the application.
Wilcox said that reducing duplication would help to clear the worldwide patent application backlog, which the government estimated costs UK businesses alone up to £7.65bn each year.
“The quicker we deal with patent applications, the quicker firms can bring the latest innovations to the consumer,” she said.
Under the relaxed arrangements, UK applicants will no longer be required to supply the EPO with the results of searches already carried out by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
It's expected that around 5,000 applications a year will benefit from the IPO automatically supplying the information from its records, the government said.
Earlier this month five advisers were appointed to Ian Hargreaves' review into intellectual property growth. One of which was Scottish legal academic James Boyle, founding board member of Creative Commons, and co-author of two provocative comic books. ®