UK Patent Office

The work at the British Patent Office also underwent significant changes in the last four decades of the twentieth century. Perhaps the most remarkable change that took place was its location. For many decades there was a forceful resistance to the possibility of the Office moving its premises away from central London but this finally came into effect in the late 1980s.

The Office was relocated in Newport, South Wales. The decision seems to have been influenced by the reduction of domestic work after the establishment of the European Patent Office. In fact, some noted that the workload in national patent offices was down by 70 per cent as a consequence of the emergence of the new patent system. A few decades later, Andrew Gowers highlighted what he saw, in retrospect, as the pros and cons of the relocation.

While costs have been reduced and problems such as recruitment of staff have been solved, his conclusion was that ‘the physical separation of Patent Office staff from central Government departments has contributed to the lack of connectivity with wider Government agendas and has made it more difficult to grow policy skills in the Patent Office’ (Gowers Review of Intellectual Property, HMSO, December 2006, p. 113)

Further references:
“British Patent Office” New Scientist, 25 February 1988, p. 39.
“Row grows over Patent Office move” New Scientist, 26 May 1988, p. 51.
UK Patent Office