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The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has launched a new online service to reduce the cost to business of requesting patent documents.

Named Ipsum, the service allows users to obtain a document for free rather than pay a £5 application fee. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills claimed the service could save UK businesses nearly £100,000 a year.

The department also made the point that, under the old system, patent documents were often out of date once they had been sent in the post.

Ipsum is open to anyone, although the department expects the main users will be businesses researching patents, and patent attorneys helping clients to protect their IP rights and potential investors to understand specific patent applications.

Minister for intellectual property Baroness Wilcox said: "Ipsum is free so it removes unnecessary costs for businesses. The service will give businesses, universities and consumers instant access to the information they need so they can understand the progress of patent applications and save money.

"Patent examiners around the world will also benefit as they can now immediately understand why the UK Intellectual Property Office did, or did not, grant a patent. This could help reduce the global backlog of applications benefiting UK business hoping to get their patents processed in another country."

The IPO has launched Ipsum as part of the government's response to the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, which highlighted that patent backlogs can have a negative effect on innovation and growth.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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