What the UK Government has done for intellectual property

Last week, OUT-LAW ran a story about Britain snubbing World Intellectual Property Day, hinting that Kyrgyzstan is the real champion of today’s global IP celebration. But Vivien Gray, an IP specialist with Pinsent Masons, begs to differ.

The following is Vivien’s response

The point is that the UK is well aware of the importance of intellectual property rights to business and ultimately to a healthy economy. Admirable as World Intellectual Property Day is, it doesn't take one day in the year for the UK to have to demonstrate this, as can be seen from a number of recent measures which it has carried out.

One of these is the Government Review of intellectual property rights in the UK which was launched by Chancellor Gordon Brown early this year and is in its final stages. The review has been headed-up by the former editor of the Financial Times, Andrew Gower, whose remit has been to consider whether the current law is suitable for the digital age.

As part of his review Gowers has been considering issues such as how the Government administers the awarding of intellectual property, whether copyright laws are too complex and expensive for businesses to navigate, whether intellectual property technically and legally works in the digital environment, and whether the current terms of protection for sound recordings are appropriate.

The review demonstrates that the Government is alive to the issues which are arising as a result of rapid technological advancements, and how our already well established and developed intellectual property regime can be adapted to address such issues.

Another example of the importance which the Government attaches to intellectual property is the Chancellor's decision in this year's budget to extend research and development tax relief to companies of up to 500 employees (not just small and medium-sized businesses).

This recent step by the Government (together with other steps such as designating Birmingham, Bristol, and Nottingham, Manchester, York and Newcastle as science cities) reflects a growing recognition of the importance of R&D and the skilled engineering and technology market in which it features, in an economy which can no longer rely on the traditional industries which underpinned it, such as the manufacturing industry (as the recent closure of the Peugeot car assembly plant in the West Midlands shows only too well).

And central to the encouragement and development of R&D is the ability for businesses to rely on intellectual property rights to protect proprietary R&D and to generate revenues from it.

If that’s not a good advertisement for Word Intellectual Property Day then I'm not sure what would be.