Posted on 12/1/2015

Changes to the patent box – time to act

Businesses should consider their eligibility for the patent box tax relief scheme.

The UK’s Patent Box tax relief scheme has been greatly welcomed by innovative British businesses as a means of reducing their corporation tax bill, but it is set to change.

Generally speaking, the relief reduces corporation tax payable on patented products to 10%. The relief has been available on profits made after 1 April 2013, so many businesses filed their first round of tax returns incorporating the tax relief last year.

The benefits of the patent box were mentioned recently in a talk given by Wilson Gunn’s James Robey (Partner) alongside Bentley Motors’ Howard Chetwynd (Technical Manager – Patents). In the talk, Howard revealed that Bentley was applying for patent box tax relief for the first time in 2014 and that the scheme was expected to reduce their tax bill by a seven-figure sum.

However, there has been criticism of the scheme from the press as a loophole for tax avoidance and from within the EU, with certain countries objecting that the scheme is unfair and could lead to companies setting up business in the UK to avoid tax.

Against this background, the Treasury has now agreed to change the tax scheme. It is unclear precisely how the scheme will change. However, it has been agreed that the current scheme will not remain in operation beyond 2021 and will be closed to new entrants by 2016.

We will pay attention to the proposed changes, but considering that any new scheme may be less favourable, especially to British companies who are exploiting inventions that were developed outside the UK, it would be prudent to review patent portfolios with a view to entering the current scheme before it expires in 2016.

If you would like us to review your products against your IP portfolio for qualifying patents, or to check for the possibility of obtaining patents that may be used in the Patent Box, please do not hesitate to contact us. If you would like to read more about the patent box scheme generally, visit our IP Insights page.

Wilson Gunn