22 April 2021TrademarksAlex Baldwin

UKIPO begins ‘single system’ digital overhaul of services

The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has launched a five-year transformation programme to overhaul its IP services, systems and processes to make the most of modern digital technology.

At the core of the new ‘ One IPO’ programme is a single, integrated system for all registered IP rights—including patents, trademarks and designs—allowing for creators and rights holders to apply for, manage and research all of their IP rights in one place.

Over the five-year period, the patents service is set to move to the new system in 2024, the trademarks service in 2025, and designs in 2026.

“At the IPO our ambition is to be the best IP office in the world,” said the IPO’s CEO Tim Moss. “Our transformation programme is our pledge to up our game—to deliver excellent IP services that meet the needs of our customers.

“To achieve that we will not replicate what we do now, but completely transform the way we deliver services.”

The result, Moss said, will be “more modern, flexible, digital services” and increased opportunities for the agency’s customers to protect, research and use their IP.

In the One IPO prospectus, the office outlines what exactly customers can expect from the transformation, including fully paper-free systems, a unified IPO account to manage all IP, and the addition of data analytics tools.

“We want to see rights owners benefit the most from these changes,” David Holdsworth, deputy CEO at the IPO and lead director on the project told WIPR. “We want them to fully realise the potential of their creations… this is what the IP system was set up for.”

“We should never be the constricting factor for innovation, only the enabling factor for innovation.”

Customer perspective

The programme looks to harmonise a “patchworked” digital system which brought “complexity not only for the IPO, but also for their customers,” said Robert Watson, partner at Mewburn Ellis.

“Currently, there are multiple systems in place for filing registered rights, and then different systems for managing those rights, with each system having little in common with the other,” Watson added

“The (eventual) advent of a single integrated system for applying for and managing patents, designs and trademarks will bring huge benefits for direct applicants, attorneys and their clients, as well as making searching for rights much easier.”

‘Unleash innovation’

Digitisation of the IPO programme kickstarted at the beginning of last year with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to this, the IPO had 36 manual processes that were “paper-based or relied on office presence,” explained Holdsworth.

“Within four weeks we had digitised all of them which meant that the IPO could operate 100% during COVID-19.”

Now, the official move to unify and digitise IPO services in the UK looks to lay the groundwork for UK businesses to better innovate and harbour economic growth following pandemic

The IP Minister, Amanda Solloway, said: “IP is essential to making the UK the most innovative and creative country in the world. It is fuel to unleash innovation and creativity; to help British businesses build back better following the pandemic. The UK already has a world-leading IP environment, but a service for innovators must itself innovate.”

A virtual transformation event will be held on May 12, 2021, giving users the opportunity to put questions about the IPO’s transformation to the programme’s leaders.

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