This Kat has not yet read and digested the consultation document, which runs to some 149 pages, but already has a sinking feeling about it. It appears that all the Rule numbers will be changing, along with an substantial amount of minor tinkering. The Patent Office say, in their summary to the document:
"We suggest that it is time for a substantial modernisation of the 1995 Rules. The most significant proposal is a completely new approach to the rules on litigation at the Patent Office – with a set of generic rules of procedure which better reflect current litigation practice.A similar exercise was carried out last year on the Registered Designs Rules, resulting in an entirely new version for 2006 onwards. This only included 47 Rules and 3 Schedules, in comparison with the new Patent Rules having 121 Rules and 7 Schedules. Much head scratching will now have to be done among patent practitioners to find out how (or if) the new Rules will change the way they do things in the UK, and whether this would be a good thing. The IPKat will keep you posted.
Other proposals concern the removal of some fee-bearing Forms, introduction of a Welsh language scheme, updating of some formal requirements (in particular to set out requirements in respect of sequence listings), and updating of provisions generally to reflect modern working practices – such as the availability of documents over the internet and the electronic filing of patent applications.
Furthermore the draft Rules include modernised provisions dealing with supplementary protection certificates1, the new EC Regulation on medicinal products for paediatric use, and the recent EC Regulation on compulsory licensing of patents relating to the manufacture of pharmaceutical products for export to countries with public health problems"
The (far more sceptical) Merpel points out that the word "modernised" only brings shudders of dread to her feline legs, as it is often a euphemism for aimless tinkering for no real effect but much extra work. Didn't that nice Mr Gowers say that UK patent law was in pretty ok shape? As they say, if it ain't broke...