The UK government has today released a report on trends at the UKIPO between 1995-2017 (please see here). A few key points to take from the report:

  • Patent applications made directly to the UK IPO have seen a gentle decline in recent years, applications filed at the European Patent Office (EPO) are continuing to rise, particularly those that are filed at the EPO designating the UK
  • Trademark applications are on the rise, with total application numbers in 2017 more than double what they were in 1995. This is also seen in applications filed at the EUIPO; applications numbers have more than doubled across this time period
  • Design applications at the UK IPO have increased greatly since 2014, and in 2016 reached the greatest amount since 1995.

Robert Watson, Partner at Mewburn Ellis, commented:

“There is a trend of a gentle decline in patent applications at the UKIPO over this period, whilst applications at the European Patent Office have continued to rise.  Many UK applicants will make their initial filing at the UK office, whilst choosing to pursue protection via the EPO, often by filing an international application. The trend may well reflect the shifting of the initial application to the European Patent Office, which can offer some advantages in the faster processing of the subsequent filed applications. However, within the overall trend, there has been a steady rise in International (PCT) application entering the UK national phase – such applications may be from applicants choosing to avoid the EPO for obtaining protection in the UK market, perhaps because of delays or overly strict examination, particularly in certain subject matters. These figures also do not show the effect of the recent changes to application fees for UK applications, which is likely to lead to a reduction in self-filed patent applications.

“There has been a significant rise in UK trade mark applications, with total application numbers in 2017 more than double what they were in 1995.  As a similar trend has been observed in application for Community trade marks at the EUIPO, this rise must reflect a real rise in demand for registered brand protection. A significant proportion of the growth in UK applications has come from UK residents, although non-resident applications at the UKIPO have risen significantly since the Brexit vote.

“The number of design applications at the UKIPO was steady from 2003 to 2014, with again a notable rise seen since the Brexit vote. However, a major contributing factor in this rise will be the recent modernisation of the design filing process, with the ability to file UK designs online, and more recently, a significant reduction in fees.”