Labour Pledges IP Law Reform, Conservatives Pledge Public Procurement Overhaul

The Labour Party has said that it will further reform intellectual property law if it is returned to Government in next month's general election. The Conservative Party has said it will introduce independent oversight into the public procurement process.

The two main parties have published their election manifestos, outlining their policies on intellectual property; corporate law; data protection and freedom of information; and industrial development.

Both parties have pledged to allocate more public money to companies that conduct research and development, Labour through direct investment and the Conservatives through a R&D tax break.

"Research and development tax credits will be improved and refocused on hi-tech companies, small businesses and new start-ups," said the Conservative Party manifesto.

"The new UK Finance for Growth Fund will bring together a total of £4 billion of public funds and combine it with private money to channel equity to businesses looking to develop and grow," said Labour's manifesto. "Within this, the Growth Capital Fund will focus on SMEs which need capital injections of between £2 and £10 million, while the Innovation Investment Fund will focus on the needs of high-tech firms."

"To help us do better in turning research outputs into innovation, we will provide focused investment for Technology and Innovation Centres, developing technologies where the UK has world-leading expertise," it said.

Labour said an additional tax break would be available for companies that depend on patents. "We will ensure a competitive regime through the development of the patent-box – a lower rate of corporation tax to encourage UK-based innovation – supporting the UK’s strengths in new industries and sectors," it said.

In the aftermath of the passing of the controversial Digital Economy Bill, many parts of which still need Parliamentary scrutiny before they come into effect, Labour said it would further change UK law on intellectual property if it wins.

"We will update the intellectual property framework that is crucial to the creative industries – and take further action to tackle online piracy," it said.

The party also said that it would introduce a tax break for video game publishers.

The Conservatives pledged to revolutionise the way that public money is spent in a bid to improve efficiency that could have major implications for companies engaged in publicly financed projects. The party said it would try to make the procurement process more efficient by publishing the details of deals online and introducing greater scrutiny from outside the civil service.

"We will tackle wasteful government procurement projects by: strengthening the role of the Chief Information Officer to get a grip on government ICT projects; introducing a series of changes to ICT procurement to deliver better value for money; appointing senior private sector nonexecutives to departmental boards to deliver better value for money; publishing in full government contracts for goods and services worth over £25,000; and increasing the accountability of EU spending by publishing details of every UK project that receives over £25,000 of EU funds," said its manifesto.

It said that contract information for local government authorities would be published for deals worth over £500.

The Conservative Party said that it hoped to increase overall Government accountability by applying the same principles to all public data.

"We will create a powerful new right to government data, enabling the public to request – and receive – government datasets in an open and standardised format," it said. "A Conservative government will bring in new measures to enable the public to scrutinise the government’s accounts to see whether it is providing value for money. All data will be published in an open and standardised format."

The Labour Party reaffirmed its commitment to the use of monitoring and surveillance technology such as CCTV and the national citizens database that will underpin its ID card scheme.

The Conservative Party said that it would scrap the database and the ID card, calling it "intrusive, ineffective and enormously expensive".

The Conservative Party also echoed existing Government plans to reform libel law to give publishers and writers better protection and to reduce libel tourism.

The Conservative Party also said that it would strengthen the power of the Information Commissioner's Office to take action against public authorities that misuse people's personal data.