Readers with a good memory will recall a posting on this blog last Summer, in which we discussed the Hargreaves recommendation that:
The UK Intellectual Property Office [UK IPO] should draw up plans to improve accessibility of the IP system to smaller companies who will benefit from it. This should involve access to lower cost providers of integrated IP legal and commercial advice.
In that posting we posed the following question:
Might the examples of licensed conveyancers and professional will-writers, relatively new breeds of quasi-professionals who compete with solicitors, provide Government with a template that they feel could be extended to patent writing? Could we see the emergence of a new, paralegal-level adviser on patents who will provide a cheap, consumer-focussed service?
IP Draughts has just downloaded the UK Government’s Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth, which was presented to Parliament in the last few days. IP Draughts was stunned to see the following statement in paragraph 3.23:
The IPO will further consult businesses, business advisors and IP specialists on providing additional specific lower cost legal advice at a ‘paralegal’ level.
IP Draughts may be putting two and two together and making five, but it seems remarkably coincidental that the Government should have chosen to use the word paralegal.
The important question is whether there is any merit in the idea of pointing poor SMEs to paralegal-level advisers. IP Draughts suspects he knows what most readers of this blog will think of this idea.
IP Draughts is reading through the rest of the Government’s 96 page (excluding foreword etc) strategy document. It gives an impression that there is plenty of activity and focus within Government on supporting innovation. The provision of advisory services to SMEs seems to be a very minor part of the Government’s strategy.