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Govt asks businesses for views on intellectual property

Hargreaves wants feedback on current IP system

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The Government has asked businesses how it can help them to make more use of intellectual property (IP) assets. It has also published details of the review it will hold into IP growth.

It said that it wanted to focus particularly on the use of IP by small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) and what it could do to help them to derive greater benefit from creative or inventive work.

The Intellectual Property Office, part of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), has published the call for evidence to support its review into IP growth.

"I am particularly interested in the impact of the IP system on small and medium-sized businesses given their importance to the UK economy," said Professor Ian Hargreaves, who is leading the review.

“We must ensure the UK has an IP system that drives innovation and growth. This review will identify the barriers to growth and, where they exist, work out how to remove them," he said. "The review will set out short-term improvements that could be made as well as a long-term vision for the IP system."

BIS said that the review would attempt to find out if the IP system helps companies to change the way they do business in line with a changing climate for digital business; and to find out if IP systems act as barriers to new market entrants.

"The UK needs a private-sector led recovery – government cannot create economic growth. This government is committed to creating the right conditions for business to grow," said intellectual property minister Baroness Wilcox. "For industries from music and film to high-tech sectors, their intellectual property will be their most valuable assets. It is essential to our economic success that we have an IP system that drives innovation.

The review was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in November and BIS will publish its report in April.

There have been other recent reviews of IP policy, including an extensive and wide-ranging one conducted by former Financial Times editor Andrew Gowers in 2006.

"The first [reaction I get to the review] is a somewhat frustrated response that here is yet another review of a subject already reviewed to death, raising the pertinent question: why another?" said Hargreaves in the call for evidence.

"[I] urge respondents to focus upon the question at the heart of this review rather than the catch-all remit of some previous reviews, namely: What, if anything, should we do to change the UK's IP system in the interests of promoting more rapid innovation and economic growth? It is through that lens that I will be assessing all responses," he said. "

Hargreaves said he would hold public events next year to gather more evidence.

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