The UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) has announced a further set of rule changes that take effect from 6 April 2017. We provide a summary of the changes and the UK IPO notice concerning all of the rule changes is HERE www.gov.uk/government/publications/changes-to-patents-rules-on-1-october-2016-and-6-april-2017/changes-to-patents-rules-on-1-october-2016-and-6-april-2017.
1) Omnibus claims
These claims take the form of ‘A [product / process] substantially as described herein with reference to the accompanying drawings’ and are a peculiarity still retained in UK patent practice. Omnibus claims refer back to the drawings and the description so do not explicitly set out technical features of the invention. From now on the UK IPO will object to this type of claim and will not allow it unless for some reason the invention cannot be claimed using words or formulae etc.
This change harmonises UK examination in line with that of the US and European Patent Office (EPO) for this type of claim. Elsewhere around the world Australia has also recently made this change, with New Zealand being one of the very few countries that now still allows omnibus claims.
We can reassure clients that for those with patents already granted including omnibus claims there is no change – the patent claims are still valid, the change is for currently pending and new applications.
2) Address for renewal reminder
In the past there has been a burden on attorneys to update the UK IPO annually with an address for renewal reminders for applicants. This administrative step is being cancelled and the UK IPO will just use the address as last provided until told otherwise.
This change brings the UK into line with procedures at the EPO and make the renewals process more straightforward – good news for all.