Section 23

Restrictions on applications abroad by United Kingdom residents

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23.-(1) Subject to the following provisions of this section, no person resident in the United Kingdom shall, without written authority granted by the comptroller, file or cause to be filed outside the United Kingdom an application for a patent for an invention if subsection (1A) below applies to that application, unless -

  • (a) an application for a patent for the same invention has been filed in the Patent Office (whether before, on or after the appointed day) not less than six weeks before the application outside the United Kingdom; and
  • (b) either no directions have been given under section 22 above in relation to the application in the United Kingdom or all such directions have been revoked.

(1A) This subsection applies to an application if -

  • (a) the application contains information which relates to military technology or for any other reason publication of the information might be prejudicial to national security; or
  • (b) the application contains information the publication of which might be prejudicial to the safety of the public.

(2) Subsection (1) above does not apply to an application for a patent for an invention for which an application for a patent has first been filed (whether before or after the appointed day) in a country outside the United Kingdom by a person resident outside the United Kingdom.

(3) A person who files or causes to be filed an application for the grant of a patent in contravention of this section shall be liable -

  • (a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the prescribed sum; or
  • (b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or a fine, or both.

(3A) A person is liable under subsection (3) above only if -

  • (a) he knows that filing the application, or causing it to be filed, would contravene this section; or
  • (b) he is reckless as to whether filing this application, or causing it to be filed, would contravene this section.

(4) In this section -

  • (a) any reference to an application for a patent includes a reference to an application for other protection for an invention;
  • (b) any reference to either kind of application is a reference to an application under this Act, under the law of any country other than the United Kingdom or under any treaty or international convention to which the United Kingdom is a party.

Notes:
Manual of Patent Practice
Requests under 23(1) for a foreign filing licence are dealt with quickly (a matter of days), and can be approved by sending the claims only.
Applications with joint proprietors, one being non-UK, may cause difficulties if s22 applies, i.e. conflicting security provisions.
Err on the side of caution if there is any suspicion that a licence might be required, i.e. either wait six weeks or apply to the UKPO for a licence.
See page on Foreign Filing Licences.

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