UK sees surge in number of patents filed

THE NUMBER of new patented inventions in the UK rose by 29 per cent last year – the biggest leap in a decade – as 2,992 patents were granted.

The figures, set out in a report from law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, will come as good news for chancellor George Osborne, who in last week’s Budget said he wanted the UK to be at the forefront of innovation and “the technology hub of Europe”.

But the number of patent applications submitted dropped to 15,343 last year, following a declining trend over the last decade. Some 20,196 patents were applied for in 2002.

RPC intellectual property partner David Cran, who wrote the report, said the lower number of applications reflects the economic downturn, as companies tread more carefully with their investment budgets.

BLP head of intellectual property Simon Clark told City A.M.: “People have been tightening their belts and are no longer filing speculative applications in the hope some will be granted, so the quality of applications has probably increased.”

The boom in IP grants is expected to grow in light of “Patent Box” – the government initiative which will cut the tax rate on profits generated from patents to 10 per cent from April 2013.

Cran called scheme a Budget highlight and said it will “substantially increase the UK’s competitiveness”.

He added that the reforms made to the UK Patent County Court, including capping to £50,000 the cost of losing, were crucial in encouraging innovation and removing fears of bankruptcy for small businesses wishing to sue for patent infringement.

Last year’s surge was driven by the vehicles and transport industry, which was granted the most number of patents at 689 – up 68 per cent on the previous year. Health and surgery patents jumped 53 per cent to 480.