The President of the IP Federation has written to John Alty, Chief Executive of the Intellectual Property Office, saying the following:
I note from the CIPA Journal of August 2010 (page 515), and your speech at the CIPA Congress very recently, that the IPO intends to make on-line file inspection available for UK patent applications.
On behalf of the IP Federation, I am writing to applaud this development and to encourage it to become available as soon as possible.
When evaluating a third-party European patent application or patent (for example to assess its likely validity), it has become second nature to review the file on-line at the EPO. Many patent attorneys will review several such files each day.
Sometimes a view on validity of a patent right has to be delivered in a very short time-frame (1 day or less). The lack of analogous on-line file inspection for UK patent applications means a fully informed view on the validity of a UK patent right cannot be given in time. The resulting legal uncertainty is a bad for UK industry.
On-line file inspection is also very useful for applicants to view their own application documents, particularly small applicants such as SMEs.
There is some concern about the free availability of inventor addresses, particularly in the pharmaceutical sector. Hopefully, this issue will be taken into account in the system as it develops.