Online inspection of patent application files possible following law change

Out-Law News | 04 Oct 2011 | 2:35 pm | 1 min. read

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) will be able to make documents on patent applications available online following changes to UK law.

Amendments to the Patents Act came into force on 1 October and exempt the IPO from liability for copyright infringement if it uploads files on patent applications that it does not own the copyright to.  

The IPO keeps a 'patent file' on each application it receives and once that application is published it become available for public inspection. Prior to the legal amendments public inspection was only possible by someone visiting the IPO's offices to view the files in person or by paying a fee to order a copy. Online inspection was not possible because the IPO did not own the copyright to all the files, it has said.

"The change will introduce an exception to copyright so that copyright in documents is not infringed when they are made available for online inspection by the Intellectual Property Office under [the] Patents Act," the IPO said in a statement.

"This will allow the Intellectual Property Office to make patent case files available for online inspection. Before the changes the Intellectual Property Office would have been infringing copyright by putting online documents which were not Crown copyright, such as letters from attorneys. The change to the law will not allow the Intellectual Property Office to put online journals, articles or books which are on the patent case file but are available elsewhere," it said.

Individuals can make a request for online inspection to the IPO's online patent information and document inspection service, the IPO said.