The governments of the UK and the United States recently announced they have made progress on a joint plan to cooperate on patents.
The plan, launched in March, is designed to help the countries' governments deal with the problem of patent backlogs and the effects they have on job creation and economic growth.
In March, the UK Intellectual Property Office released a report, entitled Economic Study on Patent Backlogs and a System of Mutual Recognition. The report found that patent backlogs can reduce incentives to invent and they stifle competitiveness.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, together with the UKIPO, launched their joint plan in response to the report. The plan is intended to enable patent examiners in each office to utilize work already done by the other to reduce duplication of processes and increase efficiency.
Judith Wilcox, UK parliamentary under secretary for business, innovation and skills, said backlogs "make it very hard for our innovators and entrepreneurs to obtain the patent rights so essential for innovative high-tech businesses to grow." According to Wilcox, this costs the global economy "billions each year."
For this reason, Wilcox said, "reducing patent backlogs is critical."