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UK splashes out £30m on improving antiquated patent system, Deloitte and NTT Data are the lucky winners

Plans to cut patent renewal time from five days to five minutes

The UK’s Intellectual Property Office has awarded two new contracts in it's bid to get up to speed in the 21st Century.

Deloitte has won a £23.8m contract to become a “strategic supplier to deliver digital services” as it attempts to execute its “transformation plan” aim at allowing organisation and individual to digitally manage their intellectual property rights.

The global consultancy firm becomes the “Transformation Phase 1” for the project under a contract which is set to last until September 2023, the contract award notice said.

The IPO has also awarded software consultancy NTT Data a £7.1m-contract to offer the Common Technology Components workstream within the overall IPO Transformation Programme. It will create “reusable building blocks similar to microservices that will be assembled into end-to-end Digital Services”, according to a contract award notice published in August. NTT Data’s contract is set to end February next year.

In July the IPO, formerly known as the Patent Office, launched a digital renewals service that it claims reduces bulk renewal time for IP rights from five days to five minutes. The service was the first example of the Intellectual Property Office’s ‘One IPO’ service,’ providing a single, integrated renewal service across all registered IP rights, it said at the time.

As if calling from some point in the previous two decades, it said: “For the first time, customers who need to renew a registered design can do so online. Customers can also renew up to 1,500 IP rights, - including combinations of patents, trade-marks and designs - in a single digital transaction.”

The new service has handled around £138m in transactions during an initial trial period between April and December last year.

We've only just begun

But the scale of its transformation does not end there. The organisation based in Newport, Wales, promised to “embark on the next phase of [its] enterprising service transformation programme”, in its annual report published in July.

“We will work on future-proofing the IP framework to ensure that the UK IP system remains one of the best in the World and we will further embed our ‘One IPO’ culture. All of this supports our continued focus on our customers and on our support of our people,” it said, while singularly failing to future-proof the English language against mouth-shrinking mumbo-jumbo.

Among the milestones was its first successful use of AI which offered “significant improvements and efficiencies for our customers and staff”. A pre-application tool and internal trade mark search tool object of these innovations, it said.

At the end of 2020, the IPO said it passed an external Gateway Review which endorsed next phase in the programme during which it planned to “explore what our customers need from a customer account and any new accompanying services to allow them to digitally manage their IP rights”. ®

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