House of Lords written question – answered on 23rd July 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird UUP

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the efficacy of the current UK arrangements for providing and protecting patents for small and medium-sized enterprises compared with those in other countries; and what proposals they have to improve them.

Photo of Baroness Wilcox Baroness Wilcox The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

UK patent legislation does not permit the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to apply different criteria to applications for patents according to the size of company involved. However, its patent granting processes are certified to the international quality standard ISO 9001:2008, and the IPO does try to tailor how it delivers its services to meet the needs of its customers, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs). For example, unrepresented applicants are given special help and advice in progressing their applications.

Recognising the special difficulties faced by SMEs, the IPO has recently published a document, From Ideas to Growth: Helping SMEs Get Value from their Intellectual Property, setting out its proposals for providing SMEs with better support and improved access to intellectual property advice. This is available at

The Government also actively encourage alternative dispute resolution as a low cost way of resolving patent disputes, such as through the IPO's mediation and patents opinion services. The Government have introduced reforms to the Patents County Court, such as a fixed scale of recoverable costs capped at £50,000, to make it easier and cheaper for SMEs to defend their intellectual property rights, including patents, when court action is necessary.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes1 person thinks so

No0 people think not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.