Registration of interests in UK patents

Section 33 of the Patents Act 1977 sets out those transactions, instruments and events which should be registered with the UK Intellectual Property Office.

If they are not, third parties can acquire interests in the patent (or patent application) without being bound by the earlier unregistered interest, unless they knew of the transaction, instrument or event (sections 33(1) and 33(2 of the Patents Act).

Registrable interests include:

– a patent assignment, including any right in a patent or patent application;

– a patent licence;

– a mortgage;

– a grant of a security (e.g. a fixed or floating charge);

– the death of a person who has a right in or under a patent or patent application;

– the bankruptcy of a person who has a right in or under a patent or patent application;

– an order of a court or any other competent authority transferring the patent or patent application, or any right in or under it or ordering an application to proceed in the name of a different person.

Section 33 gives considerable protection to those who do take steps to register a registrable interest, since it means that third parties who subsequently acquire registrable rights in the patent or patent application take it subject to the registered interest.

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