UK Politics

Vince Cable drops 'superfast' patent plans

Vince Cable
Image caption Mr Cable said he wanted to help innovative businesses flourish

The government has dropped plans for a "superfast" service which would provide patents in 90 days.

Patents usually take up to 18 months to issue but the government said it wanted to make it easier for "innovators to turn their ideas into business growth".

But a consultation found only three respondents likely to use it and there were concerns about invalid patents.

The Intellectual Property Office said "there would not appear to be a great desire" for the service.

It also concluded that it was "not possible to mitigate against the risk of grant of invalid patents, which would then need to be amended or revoked".

"This is an unavoidable consequence of granting a patent in such a short timescale when the patent system worldwide is based on a standard publication period of 18 months," it said.

'Significant drawbacks'

Business Secretary Vince Cable first announced the plan in December 2012 and they were confirmed by Intellectual Property Minister Lord Younger in April.

Lord Younger said at the time that acting on "inspiration and inventive thoughts" quickly "can often be the catalyst for making a real difference to the success or otherwise of an idea".

But the consultation suggested little enthusiasm for the idea and "several significant drawbacks" were highlighted.

The government said the danger of granting invalid patents was the issue which was "arguably of most concern to consultation respondents" because of the uncertainty it could create.

"In light of these concerns... the government has decided not to implement the proposed superfast service or make any changes to existing acceleration services."

Patent lawyer Alan MacDougall said the idea was "simply not viable".

"The current system already has in place a free procedure to accelerate the patent granting process which is often used by businesses when the need arises," he said.

"The proposed system would just have added to the complexity of the patenting process, would have been costly for businesses and would not have delivered any real value."

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