UK patent attorneys welcome universities' spin-out businesses and patent applications but caution: "publish and be demned"

July 31, 2006

London, 28 Jul 2006

Barry Treves, President of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), has welcomed the news that more UK universities are patenting inventions and doing licence deals, but suggests that academic pressure to publish is holding back faster progress.

According to a report published on 26 July by the Higher Education Funding Council, for the Department of Trade & Industry, UK universities' revenue from intellectual property (IP) is continuing to increase, albeit slowly: at £38.2 million, the total for 2003-04 is only just ahead of the £37.1 million achieved the previous year. Patenting, however, has shown a strong increase, with patents granted in the latest year up 23 per cent on 2002-03. It's this increase in IP protection that underpins the huge surge in licences and options executed by universities, with 198 per cent growth in 2003-04.

Barry Treves is of the view that progress would be faster if academics abandoned their traditional inclination to publish details of their inventions at the earliest opportunity and said,

"It's still the case in many universities that academic success is measured by the number of publications. Whilst knowledge of the importance of protecting intellectual property is improving, not all academics realise that it's generally not possible to patent an invention if you've previously published details of it. Universities, especially those with strong science and engineering departments, need to make sure they have a clear IP policy and that students in all disciplines are made aware of the importance of confidentiality."

Barry went on to say

"Any university that wants advice on how to do this should contact CIPA. We will be pleased to advise them on how to put in place or improve their IP policies and procedures, and refer them to sources of good teaching material about patenting and intellectual property in general. Academics should not forget that when it comes to patentable technology, it really is a case of 'publish and be damned."


Intellectual Property (IP) is the term usually given to patents, trade marks, designs and copyright. A Patent Attorney (formerly called patent agent) has qualified by experience and examination for entry of his or her name on the Register of Patent Attorneys. A Patent Attorney is entitled to deal with as designs, copyright and trade marks as well as patents. The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) is the professional body representing Patent Attorneys in the UK. CIPA was founded in 1882 and incorporated by Royal Charter in 1891. The majority of patent applications in the UK and Europe are submitted by Patent Attorneys on behalf of clients. Entry on the Register provides Patent Attorneys with the right to conduct litigation and to act as advocates in the Patents County Court. Fellows of CIPA can also acquire an additional qualification (Litigator's Certificate) entitling them also to conduct litigation in the Chancery Division of the High Court (including the Patents Court) and to conduct appeals from the Patents County Court, the County Court and the Chancery Division of the High Court in respect of Intellectual Property litigation.

Chartered Institute of Patent Agents of the UK -- CIPA
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