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Key points of interest from the UKIPO's latest "Facts & Figures" report

Steve Jones, Head of Chemistry & Life Sciences at AdamsonJones comments on the recent UKIPO "Facts & Figures" report for 2012 and 2013.

The latest edition of the UKIPO’s “Facts & Figures” report for 2012 and 2013 has just been released. The report is restricted to activities in the UKIPO, which is of course only one route to IP protection in the UK, the others being the EPO and OHIM. As such, the data is of limited value, but a number of interesting points can be drawn from it.

For patents, there was a slight (3%) fall in the number of applications filed in 2013 compared with the preceding year. A small fluctuation of that magnitude is insignificant, but it suggests that the introduction of the widely-heralded
Patent Box” tax regime has not yet resulted in an increased number of patent filings. It will be interesting to see whether that increase materialises in 2014 and 2015, as the Patent Box returns to corporation tax payers’ consciousness as they prepare their tax returns for 2013-14, the first year in which the system was operational.

Whilst, as would be expected, the majority of UKIPO patent filings in 2013 were by UK-based applicants, a significant proportion (35%) were by overseas applicants, with the USA accounting for about one-third of those. This probably reflects the fact that the alternative route of EPO filing is still perceived as expensive by many applicants from outside Europe (and indeed from within other European countries), and national filing in a few selected national patent offices is a widely-used option. Indeed, the list of applicants granted the most UK national patents in 2013 is populated with well-known multinationals, such as IBM, HP, Canon, GEC and Rolls-Royce.

For trade marks, the position is very different. Over 90% of the applications filed at the UKIPO in 2013 were by UK-based applicants, with overseas filers accounting for only about 9%. The very cost-effective Community Trade Mark system administered by OHIM is popular with applicants from overseas as well as from within Europe, and in most cases is the preferred route to trade mark protection. Nonetheless, there was a rise in the number of trade mark applications published by the UKIPO in 2013 of around 18% compared with 2012. The list of applicants filing the most UK trade mark applications contains many well known names, but is topped by Dignity Funerals Ltd, which registered 187 marks in 2013, showing that despite the competition from OHIM, national trade mark registration through the UKIPO is far from dead.

The list of the top fifty filers also included a number of individuals: Georgia May, Adam May, Jane Ward and Terry Ward. However, it seems that these four individuals are actually joint owners of the same marks, which shows that these statistics must be treated with some caution. The marks in question are interesting, though: each one consists of a set of coordinates such as 53°24’N 1°30’W that correspond to various locations in the UK.

As for designs, the position is very similar to that for trade marks in that an even greater proportion (96%) of applications are for UK-based applicants. It seems that the Community Registered Design is the system of choice for most applicants overseas. Nearly 40% of the top fifty design filers in 2013 were private individuals, as opposed to corporate bodies. One noteworthy entry on the list of top filers is Glasgow 2014 Ltd, the organiser of the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, showing the importance of design protection in relation to major sporting events. Glasgow 2014 Ltd has, as would be expected, also registered numerous trade marks.

Author: Steve Jones, Director of Chemisty & Life Sciences at AdamsonJones

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