Patents and National Security Checks

The UK Intellectual Property Office checks every patent application filed to identify whether it contains information which, if published, would be prejudicial to national security or the safety of the public.

A very small number of applications may become subject to directions under Section 22 of the Patents Act which place restrictions on, for example, the disclosure of the application to any third party or filing equivalent applications abroad.

The UK IPO will notify you within six weeks of filing your application if such directions are imposed. An address for service within the United Kingdom will be required for all applications placed under Section 22 directions.

The directions under Section 22 may only be lifted after your application has been inspected by the Ministry of Defence. This inspection will normally be done 18 months from your application’s priority date, or filing date. A form DP2 can be filed to request early inspection of your application by the Ministry of; it may be in your interest to return this form to the UK IPO as soon as possible if you think the directions should not remain in force.

If your patent application is placed under Section 22 directions, your application can undergo search and examination whilst under the directions, but it will not be published or granted until the directions are lifted. You will also be restricted by law from discussing the contents of your application to any person without prior permission from the UK Intellectual Property Office. Filing equivalent applications abroad will also not be possible unless permission is obtained from us. However, once the directions are revoked, publication and grant will be possible, subject of course to the normal requirements for all UK patent applications.

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