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LONDON - The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) today agreed to develop an action plan for reducing patent processing backlogs in both offices. Patent backlogs hinder the deployment of innovation and have clear adverse effects on the global economy. According to a study by London Economics released on behalf of the UKIPO, the first study that attempts to quantify the economic impact of patent backlogs, the cost to the global economy of the delay in processing patent applications may be as much as £7.65 ($11.4) billion each year.
Today, United Kingdom (UK) Minister of State for Higher Education and Intellectual Property David Lammy and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos committed both the UKIPO and the USPTO to develop a plan to optimize reuse of work on patent applications that are filed jointly at the USPTO and the UKIPO. To this end, the offices will identify all areas of reutilization potential by the end of this calendar year, and shall pursue measures designed to facilitate maximum reuse by building confidence in the work done by each office.
David Lammy said: "If we are serious about economic recovery, then we cannot sit back and watch good ideas go to waste. I want to see an international system that works efficiently to provide innovative businesses with high quality patents in the timescales they need. The UK is working hard to secure our competitive advantage in innovative, high-growth sectors like advanced manufacturing, the life sciences, low-carbon and others. Patents act as a short-term reward to innovators, so that they offset the costs involved in developing their ideas. I welcome the joint working that we have agreed with David Kappos today to tackle this issue head on to reduce unnecessary duplication of work and maintain quality between patent offices."
David Kappos said: "Every quality patent application that sits on the shelf represents jobs not created. For that reason, the USPTO has made reduction of the patent backlog our highest priority. At the USPTO, we have already undertaken substantial reform of our system for processing patent applications. Work-sharing is an important feature of this reform. Thus far, however, our work-sharing efforts at the USPTO have largely been applicant driven and therefore dependent on whether individual applicants know about, and appreciate, the clear benefits of work-sharing. So I am particularly delighted that we are today embracing with the UK an office-driven mechanism for reutilization of work."
Today's agreement commits the USPTO and UKIPO to a follow-on study into the effect of the backlog on competitors and to an ambitious work-sharing collaboration, with the goal of reutilizing each other's work to the maximum extent possible. This commitment to maximizing the reutilization of work performed by the USPTO and UKIPO will have the advantage that it will be the offices, rather than the applicants, that initiate the priority handling of applications.
In addition to unveiling the USPTO-UKIPO agreement, Minister Lammy released the results of a study prepared for UKIPO by London Economics entitled, Economic Study on Patent Backlogs and a System of Mutual Recognition, which examined the economic impact of delays in processing patents. According to the study, patent processing delays prevent high-tech businesses such as telecommunications, aviation and engineering sectors from getting to market as quickly as they otherwise could. This results in a loss of competitiveness, delays in research and development and an overall reduction in the incentive to create and innovate.