3 April 2017

The intellectual property office for the United Kingdom is known simply as the Intellectual Property Office ("the IPO"). It is an executive agency of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and is responsible for:
  • examining and granting applications for patents and trade marks and registering designs;
  • the development of policy with regard to intellectual property ("IP") in the UK;
  • educating businesses and consumers in the UK about their rights and responsibilities in relation to IP; and
  • helping with the enforcement of IP rights.
It is based in Newport but has an office in London.

Its chief executive officer is known as the Comptroller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks ("the Comptroller"). In patent and unregistered design right matters he or she is referred to simply as the comptroller. in relation to trade marks and registered designs he or she is referred to as the registrar.

In examining and granting applications for patents and trade marks and registering designs, the IPO performs both executive and judicial functions. 

Applications for patents and trade marks are considered by officials known as "examiners" and it is they who determine initially the fate of such application.  Appeals against examiners' decisions can be made to officials known as "hearing officers" who decide those issues on behalf of the Comptroller in his capacity as the comptroller in patent and unregistered design cases and the registrar in trade mark and registered design cases. 

Hearing officers can also hear and determine disputes between applicants for, or owners of, certain intellectual property rights and those challenging their claims to those rights. These can include "entitlement actions" in relation to patents and oppositions and invalidity and revocation applications in relation to trade marks.


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