The Gower report on Patents

Andrew Gower was commissioned only last year in December to review intellectual property. There has been a surprisingly amount of speculation surrounding the content of the report. His report was a staggering 150 pages long and was published on the 6th of December 2006.

Gower suggests that the patent system within the UK needs to be modified slightly but makes no real suggestions of an overhaul in patent law. Gower did not see any reason to lift the exclusion of ‘computer programs as such’ within section 1(2) in the Patents Act 1977 and did not focus upon a consistent approach to defining this either.

Although the fast track process for a patent application exists many people do not use it and Gower suggests that there is a need to improve the awareness and use of this process for businesses.

Gower would also like to see the implementation of a Community Patent system which was proposed by the European Commission in 2000. This would give inventors a single patent valid throughout Europe. However there has been no consensus on the requirements of a patent across Europe or how infringements should be arranged. Gower offers no solution to this problem or to the inadequacy of the obvious requirement in the inventive step. He merely suggests that there is need to set an appropriate level.

Finally the Patent Office if asked to change its name to the UK Intellectual Property office and to make expired patents available online.

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