Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The IPO Welsh Language Scheme: Yn llwyddiant?

Since 17 December 2007 it has been possible to file and prosecute a UK patent application in Welsh as well as English.  This was a result of the changes to the Patents Rules that came into force on that day, the main change allowing this being newly worded Rule 14, which reads:
(1) The contents of all documents (including annotations to drawings) contained in an application for a patent must be in English or Welsh.
This is in contrast to the old Rule 20 of the 1995 Rules, which stated:
(1) All documents (including drawings) making up an application for a patent or replacing such documents shall be in the English language.
Other changes were also made in Rules 113, 25, 12, 17, 65 and 9 of the 2007 Rules.

The IPKat wondered at the time what the point of this change was, given that it didn't seem to be mandated by anything in particular, and the possibility of there being a demand for applications being prosecuted in Welsh seemed to be quite small (see here for more information). He even went as far as to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act to find out how many applications had in fact been filed in the first year the scheme was up and running.  The results in January 2009 were not promising: not one application had been filed in Welsh.

It has now been nearly four years since the scheme came in, so I thought I would get an updated answer on how many applications have been filed.  An updated FOI request was made via the email address given on this page of the IPO's website. Within a matter of a few days I received the following very helpful reply:
Thank you for your request dated 24 August 2011 asking about Welsh language patent applications.

This is not information that we would record centrally within the Intellectual Property Office, but having checked with all the work sections of the IPO that process patent applications at an early stage, I can report that none have any record of handling one filed in Welsh.

If we did get one it would certainly be noticed and remembered as requiring translating or processing by a Welsh speaker.
So, can someone remind me again what the point of it all was?

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