Patent Office will become UK Intellectual Property Office

The Patent Office will change its name to the UK Intellectual Property Office on 2nd April. The change, recommended in the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property, is designed to reflect the wider role the Office will take in the future.

"Businesses built upon other forms of 'intellectual property', such as copyright, trade marks and designs, have often commented that the name does not reflect all our responsibilities," said Ron Marchant, chief executive of the Patent Office. "This has caused confusion over who is responsible for these other rights, and also how important we and the Government consider those rights to be."

Marchant said that the role of the Office would change in the near future as it took responsibility for a wider range of intellectual property governance functions.

"The [Gowers Review] report’s main recommendations will help us to enforce intellectual property rights, and support British businesses both at home and abroad," said Marchant.

"These are issues we began to deal with in our own reform programme, 'Patent Office for the 21st Century'. So it is even more appropriate that these matters will be included in our corporate plan when we become the UK Intellectual Property Office," said Marchant. "A number of changes need to be made to the law, but this does not prevent us from using our new name."

The Gowers Review was ordered by Gordon Brown and investigated the legal, regulatory and commercial climate for intellectual property and made a number of recommendations on publication last December.

The Review considered whether or not a separate Copyright Office should be established, but decided that the role and name of the Patent Office should change to reflect all forms of intellectual property oversight.

"The name of the Patent Office can be misleading to stakeholders," said the Review. "It suggests that the office is only concerned with patents while, in fact, it performs a broad range of functions in relation to all IP. The present name also contributes to the perception that other forms of IP, for example copyright, take a lower priority."

"Some stakeholders have suggested that a separate Copyright Office be established," it said. "However, the Review believes that there are a greater number of synergies than differences across different forms of IP. Policy, education, enforcement, business support, and awareness raising cut across the boundaries of all IP rights. The Review has therefore decided not to recommend that a separate Copyright Office be established."

"Instead, the Patent Office should ensure that all stakeholders are given, and are seen to be given, equal consideration in IP policy. The Review therefore recommends that the name of the Patent Office should change to reflect better the functions it carries out," it said.

Until the body can fully change its legal name it will use the name as "an operating name of the Patent Office" on its material, said Marchant.

The body has also changed its logo and changed its slogan, which forms part of the logo. Instead of saying 'for innovation' it now says 'for creativity and innovation'.