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Recent changes to UK Patent Practice.

Recent changes to UK Patent Practice.


Since 1 January 2005, many provisions of the Patents Act 1977 have been updated by the Patents Act 2004. The most recent round of amendments came into force on 1 October 2005 with effect in three areas in particular; namely matters concerning co-ownership of an application/patent, and inventor confidentiality.


Prior to 1 October 2005, Section 36 Patents Act 1977 determined the freedom with which co-owners of an application/patent could act without the consent of the other co-owner(s). Prohibited were:

  • the grant of a licence under the patent / patent application.
  • the assignment of the patent / patent application.
  • the mortgaging of a share in the patent / patent application.

However, as of 1 October 2005, this list has now been expanded also to prevent a co-owner, without the consent of the other co-owner(s), from:

  • amending the specification
  • applying to amend the specification
  • applying for the patent to be revoked


Confidentiality of an Inventor

As of 1 October 2005, an inventor's address will be kept confidential on request.

In addition, it will also be possible to request that the Patent Office keep an inventor's name confidential, although reasons as to why the request should be granted must be provided.


Renewal Fee Deadline

From 1 October 2005, the deadline for payment of a renewal fee on a UK Patent has moved from the exact anniversary of the filing date to the last day of the month containing that anniversary. This brings UK practice in this regard into line with that of other European countries and the EPO.