The UK patent office’s examination backlog had been steadily growing over the previous two decades, resulting in about 13,000 cases that had not been examined more than 3.5 years after the initial application. This number has now been reduced to zero, so there’s never been a better time to acquire patent protection in the UK.
Clearing the backlogs was a huge team effort by the UK IPO, involving making processes more efficient to complete examinations more quickly. This involved streamlining examinations so they focussed on the most important and relevant things first, thus saving the IPO time, but also giving customers more clear and succinct guidance on the issues that were most relevant to them; creating ‘technology clusters’ to work on different subject areas so that work could be shared across a wider pool of colleagues, thus allowing the IPO to focus resources in the areas where it had the most demand at any given time; and improving the way applications were handled so non-specialist staff could help examiners with early work on applications.
With the backlog cleared Tim Moss, UK IPO’s CEO said: “Now we have cleared the backlogs we can firmly focus on our transformation plans”. The UK IPO’s One IPO Transformation Programme is expected to launch in just two years. It involves a new digital service that is expected to provide faster services for both the UK IPO and its customers, allowing the management of large volumes of work more quickly and easily, and so reducing the chances of a similar backlog arising in future.
All in all, a great result has been achieved and we look forward to our clients benefiting from this experience.