The United Kingdom has been ranked second in the Global Innovation Index (GII) for 2015, with Switzerland coming in top position. The GII is co-published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Cornell University and INSEAD (l’Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires) and assesses 141 national economies on the basis of contributory environmental factors required for innovation, as well as actual national innovative outputs. For example, the overall rankings take into account such diverse factors as political stability, secondary school pupil-to-teacher ratios and the ease of getting financial credit, as well as more obvious direct measurements of innovation such as the numbers of national and international patent and trade mark applications filed.
In addition to its overall global second place ranking, the UK has been ranked 7th in terms of knowledge creation. This strong position in knowledge creation is mainly due to securing 2nd position for the strength of its citable scientific and technical publications. In contrast, the UK ranks 13th for numbers of national patent applications filed. In terms of patent applications per se, the big five of Japan, Germany, South Korea, the United States (US) and China dominate the GII tables. These results correlate with statistics by the European Patent Office (EPO) which show that the top European patent application filing states are, in order, the US, Japan, China, Germany and South Korea. The UK accounts for only 2% of patent applications at the EPO, whereas Germany accounts for 11%. This result may reflect the dominance of service provision, rather than the manufacture of goods, in the current UK economy. Combined, these statistics indicate that while the UK is punching above its weight in terms of innovation and knowledge creation, there is still more work to be done in helping UK researchers and businesses convert their technical developments into enforceable intellectual property rights.
To view the Global Innovation Index report in full, click here.
To view the latest European Patent Office statistics, click here.
The long-awaited launch of the European unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court (UPC) seems to be moving ever closer with the recent news that a property has been secured for the London central division of the Court. The 8th floor of East London’s new Aldgate Tower will provide a home for the divisional Court which will hear disputes relating to chemical and pharmaceutical matters (the other two central divisions of the UPC will be based in Munich and Paris, focusing respectively on mechanical engineering and any remaining technologies). Building work on the London court is expected to be completed by Spring 2016, while three other floors of the building will be occupied by the headquarters of controversial taxi-app Uber.
The UPC will have sole jurisdiction for matters including the infringement and revocation of the soon-to-be-introduced unitary patents. Unitary patents will provide a single intellectual property right across many, but not all, EU member states, in contrast to current European patents which convert to a bundle of separate national patents on validation after grant. The UPC will also have jurisdiction over European patents, including existing European patents, although a transitional period of at least 7 years is planned, during which patent owners will be able to opt European patents out of the UPC system.
The leasing of the Court buildings comes soon after the news that Italy has formally requested to take part in the unitary patent package (including both the unitary patent and the associated UPC). Italy had previously opposed the package, but now all EU member states, except Spain, Poland and Croatia, are on course to join the system. The Court of Justice of the European Union also recently rejected two Spanish legal challenges to the proposals. In order for the package to go ahead, an agreement must be ratified by a minimum of 13 countries, including France, Germany and the UK. So far eight countries (including France) have ratified the agreement.
Clients should note that no action is currently required regarding unitary patents unless you have a pending European patent application and would be especially keen to obtain a unitary patent, or you are entering into any legal agreements which could be affected by the new system.