From this month, companies will be able to make one application for patent protection in up to 40 European countries rather than making separate applications in each country.“Reducing the burden of bureaucracy saves businesses time and money,” comments intellectual property minister Baroness Wilcox. “The quicker we deal with patent applications, the quicker firms can bring the latest innovations to the consumer.” Reducing duplication will help to clear the worldwide patent application backlog, which costs UK businesses as much as £7.65bn each year. Under the relaxed arrangements, UK applicants will no longer have to supply the European Patent Office (EPO) with the results of searches already carried out by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Baroness Wilcox says the government is also committed to fast-tracking patent applications where the invention has an environmental benefit. On average, a patent filed via the government’s “Green Channel” service is granted in eight months compared with a 32 month average for standard applications. The service has attracted interest from other countries with the US, Australia and South Korea all introducing similar schemes.
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