New Prime Minister Gordon Brown's decision to create a Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) has been welcomed as a commitment to the role of intellectual property in the UK's economic development.
The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) has called the move a "stride in the right direction" and said that the move was consistent with Brown's attitude to IP as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
"Gordon Brown took the initiative to commission the Gowers Review of intellectual property when he was Chancellor,’ said CIPA president Bob Weston. ‘It’s encouraging to see that, now he’s Prime Minister, he’s continuing to implement Andrew Gowers’ recommendations. The UK’s international leadership in IP is fundamental to the encouragement and commercial development of innovation. Bringing IP out of the DTI and giving innovation its own minister is a stride in the right direction."
The secretary of state for innovation, universities and skills is John Denham, a former junior minister who resigned from government in 2003 in protest at the invasion of Iraq. Denham is a science graduate of Southampton University.
The UK IP Office, which was until recently called the Patent Office, will fall under the control of the new department.
Another new minister in Brown's government is Sir Digby Jones, a former director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the UK's main business lobby group. A flamboyant and sometimes controversial figure, Jones has been made minister for trade promotion.
CIPA has encouraged Jones to put pressure on his colleagues to create a dedicated minister for intellectual property, something he called for just last year. In 2006 Jones said that "if the Government is committed to an enterprise economy, as it consistently claims to be, it should appoint a Minister for IP – as knowledge is becoming increasingly vital to the future success of the UK economy".
"CIPA urges [Jones] to take up the mantle of promoting the UK’s strengths in IP to the rest of the world and to continue to put pressure on his new ministerial colleague, John Denham," said Weston.