The Intellectual Property Act 2014 is set to come into force in the UK on 1 October 2014. The Intellectual Property Bill was considered by Parliament between May 2013 and April 2014. As previously noted here, it received Royal Assent on 14 May 2014 and became the Intellectual Property Act 2014. The Act includes various changes to UK legislation, mainly in the areas of patents and designs.

Patents

The Act provides a legal framework for ratification and eventual implementation of the Unified Patent Court Agreement in the United Kingdom, as it introduces a new section 88A in the UK Patents Act giving the Secretary of State the power to make orders necessary to give effect to the agreement. 

The grounds on which the UKIPO can provide an invalidity opinion on a patent have been extended. At present, opinions can only be issued in relation to novelty and inventive step, but this will be expanded to cover all possible grounds of invalidity under UK law. The UKIPO will also be able to issue infringement and validity opinions on SPCs. In addition, the UKIPO’s power to initiate revocation of a patent will be expanded to allow them to start revocation proceedings in respect of patents which have been found to be clearly invalid in a UKIPO opinion.

Finally, the provisions in relation to the marking of patented products have been brought up to date.  Patentees will no longer have to put the patent number onto a product to indicate that it is patented, they can instead provide a link to a webpage listing the relevant patent(s). More information about this possibility can be found here.

Designs

Some of the significant changes to design protection have previously been reported here. Amongst the changes are the introduction of a criminal offence for the deliberate copying of a registered design (including Community Designs) and a change in the default ownership of unregistered designs arising from a commission - the commissioner will no longer be the owner of a design unless there is contract to assign the rights.