• Total number of applications falls by 3% in 2009
  • Dangers of leaving Intellectual Property unprotected increase during downturn

New figures reveal that the number of patent applications made in the UK continues to slide as businesses cut back on R&D and the protection of intellectual property as part of their credit crunch cost saving programmes, says City law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP (RPC).

UK patent applications totalled 15,985 in 2009, down 3% on the 16,523 of 2008 and down 8% on 17,375 in 2007. (See graph below.)

RPC explains that a successful patent application allows the owner to prevent others from making, disposing of or keeping a product or piece of machinery or using a process they have created without their permission.

Jeremy Drew, Partner and Head of RPC's Intellectual Property and Technology team, comments: "During the economic downturn many businesses have undertaken savage cost cutting programmes and even straightforward measures to protect their core intellectual property suffered as part of that drive."

RPC emphasises that even during an economic downturn the benefits of securing registration for the right products and processes should significantly outweigh the costs of applying.

Jeremy Drew adds: "It is a false economy to save a few thousand pounds by failing to apply for a patent and potentially lose out on acquiring intellectual property rights worth millions over the 20 year life of a patent."

"Normally businesses wouldn't take those kinds of short term views but the last two years have obviously been anything but normal."  

Please click here to view table.

RPC points out that ironically the theft of intellectual property, including the infringement of patented products and processes, often increases during an economic downturn as businesses seek short cuts to boost sales without the related development costs of creating their own ideas.

Jeremy Drew comments: "As businesses engage in these short cuts to compete, Intellectual Property disputes tend to increase."