After an initial trial period, the UKIPO has now launched the full version of Ipsum, an online patent database which provides instant access to documentation relating to UK and EP(UK) patents and UK patent applications.
Previously, only the status of a UK or EP(UK) patent or UK patent application could be found through the UKIPO website. Ipsum complements this service, by additionally offering instant, free access to all official documents and correspondence between the UKIPO and applicants relating to applications published after 1 January 2008. This service is comparable to the European Patent Register and the US Public Pair system, from which documents relating to European and US patents and patent applications can be obtained.
Previously, in order to obtain such information it was necessary to file a request with the UKIPO and pay a fee of £5. The UKIPO would then provide a copy of the requested document. This process necessarily involved a delay between the request being made and the document(s) being provided. In contrast to this, Ipsum is updated in real time and there is no charge.
As it is a new system, the data available is limited to recent applications. It will therefore become more useful as time goes on, and new applications are filed and added to the system. It is possible to access the following documents for UK patent applications published after 1 January 2008:
- Published specifications, both pending and granted.
- Examination Reports.
- Search Reports.
- Forms for entry to the international phase.
- Correspondence sent by the UKIPO after 1 November 2010 or received by the UKIPO after 1 March 2011.
The following documents will only be available if they were put on the file after 1 July 2011:
- Post grant documents and related correspondence.
- Third party observations.
- Formal complaints and related correspondence.
- Documents related to granted EP(UK) patents.
Baroness Wilcox, the Minister for Intellectual Property, has said "Ipsum is free so it removes unnecessary costs for businesses. The service will give businesses, universities and consumers instant access to the information they need so they can understand the progress of patent applications and save money"
Whilst this is undoubtedly correct, the real value of this new system lies in the fact that it will enable us to obtain immediate and up-to-date information on the progress of UK patent applications, and so enable us to advise clients more quickly than was previously the case.
Ipsum can be found here.
7 November 2011