UK IPO lays out ‘transformation’ plans

Vision is to provide ‘world’s best IP environment’; aims to have ‘fast, flexible and high-quality’ services. Catherine White of Intellectual Property Magazine, reports from CIPA Congress 2021.

Over the next four to five years, the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) is looking to improve public access to a delivery of its IP services for everyone, with a “vision is to provide the world’s best IP environment”, said the office’s director of transformation Andy Bartlett.

Speaking on the second day of the Charted Institute of Patent Attorneys virtual congress 2021, Bartlett stated that it is the office’s aim to deliver “fast, flexible, high-quality services” as well as “removing barriers to innovation and making the IP system much more accessible and useful to people”.

Bartlett, who has worked in the UK IPO for over 30 years, explained that the office wants to ensure that it does everything it can to “harness the power of IP, to incentivise investment, safeguarding assets, and enable knowledge sharing.

“We think through the improved use of IP, we will enable the UK to forge an unbeatable competitive advantage, building foundations for sustainable economic growth. And that is what government is really concerned with.”

Turning to the office’s transformation programme over the next five years, Bartlett laid out its vision and objectives.

He explained, “We’re not looking just to digitise current processes, our system or services, we’re looking to completely transform what we do, the way we do it, and the value that we add as an organisation to Britain’s economy. So we definitely want to transform our services, our data, and empower our people.”

Bartlett commented, “We want our services to be fast, flexible, high-quality, using a seamless experience across all our different rights. And they’ll be accessed by authenticating customer accounts, this is a new thing for UK IPO… we want our services to be much more adaptable, so that we can respond much more quickly to future needs.

“We’re also looking to reduce bureaucracy, increasing efficiency for customers and our ourselves and doing things like ironing out anomalies between our different services in particular across patents, trademarks and designs, when there’s not a good reason for there to be differences. We’re also really keen to deliver the best tools for our staff. We always say that our staff and their knowledge and expertise is one of our biggest assets that we have. And we need to make sure that they’ve got the right tools available to them, to help them to deliver to our customers.”

He noted that the UK IPO wants to improve the way it delivers its service to customers, such as delivering a single integrated system for all IP rights.

“Customer facing services should be much more joined up so people who need to do transactions with us across all of our rights, patents, trademarks and designs will be able to do so by a single system… a single online UK IPO account… [and we will make] as many of those services as self-service as we can.

“So you don’t have to wait for us to process a transaction unless necessary. And we want all our services to be available digitally. We want to offer paper routes to the customers that need that, but we want everything to be available digitally, making everything quicker and faster for us to be able to deliver.”

Bartlett explained that because the scheme is a “complex transformation and a different way of working”, it will take a number of years to come into fruition.

“We need to migrate all that information and those rights across from our existing systems across onto the new world. The idea is then that once we deploy patents, we will then deploy trademarks and then subsequently designs onto those systems.

“[It will] include doing things like deploying AI and other new technologies for new ways of working to put that all in place going forward, and that becomes the norm for the UK IPO. So, it will take us four to five years to complete that journey in its entirety, it is not as quick as we would like but it does recognise the complexities and that we want to make sure that we get this right.”

Date published: 15 September 2021

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