The implication of the document is that a lot of people are filing patent applications for the sake of getting a publication which they can be certain will go into the search files of other patent offices properly classified. The IPO think that it is a waste of time them searching these cases. That implies to me that they are software related and perhaps filed directly. The document refers to the practice of action before search (ABS). It's supposed to put a brake (pun intended) on these applications by promising to refund the search fee if the application is withdrawn. That gets rid of 75% of the hopeless cases, but the remaining 25% are a problem.
So I wondered where they come from. I have only ever had one ABS and that was a case which was filed as a priority document and destined to enter the US backlog. Generally I turn away the hopeless cases. The cost of drafting a hopeless case is a high price to pay for a publication.
One solution that struck me on first reading this document was that they could simply give themselves the option of deferring search until examination is requested. The Act already gives the examiner the ability to determine whether or not the search would serve any useful purpose (section 17 (5)). A more aggressive use of this power might enable applications to be published and further action delayed until the applicant requests examination. If he only wanted publication he won't request examination. That still leaves classification to be done.
I'm writing this blog so that you can tell me where you think these applications come from. The document is a little coy about who the applicants are that don't want a granted patent. Who are they protecting?
I greatly value the prompt and efficient searches carried out at low cost by the UK IPO for my entrepreneurial clients who would like to know where they stand before shelling out