At a recent meeting of IP lawyers, at which IP Draughts was present, someone asked what the next UK Government’s policies should be in the area of intellectual property. This prompted several “instant reactions”, including the following:
- Unified Patent Court. Continue to support the UK’s participation in the Central Division of the (European) Unified Patent Court, by providing sufficient direction and funding for the new court’s facilities and activities. After David Cameron’s remarkable diplomatic success in getting the life sciences part of the Central Division’s work to be located in the UK, it is important to follow this up at an operational level, and avoid penny-pinching.
- Educate the population about IP. Establish a body that is responsible for widespread education about IP. Consider introducing courses on IP in undergraduate programmes in science and arts subjects. Work with universities and IP professionals to take this forward, rather than rely on the UK IPO which is not established to be a training body.
- IP threats legislation. Depending on what the final recommendations are from the Law Commission, which is currently reviewing the subject of IP threats, promptly introduce legislation to implement their recommendations.
Having reflected since the meeting, IP Draughts would add a couple of further suggestions:
- recognise that UK IP policy is mostly developed at an EU level nowadays, and put more Governmental energy into negotiating policy developments at that level. The same point could be made about many aspects of commercial law, including the current proposals to introduce an EU-wide sales law.
- stop setting up independent reviews of UK IP policy, such as Gowers and Hargreaves. They generate a huge amount of work with limited benefits in return.
- develop some genuine expertise on this complex subject within the relevant Government department (probably BIS). Don’t expect the UK IPO to be the main source of Government expertise – that is a bit like leaving it to HM Revenue and Customs to develop fiscal policy.
Do readers agree with these points? Do you have any other suggestions?