According to Al-Jazeera a leaked copy of the Hargreaves Report has recommended the break up and partial privatization of the Intellectual Property Office.
If the report is implemented,
- patent registration for the United Kingdom is to be abolished altogether on the ground that there is already a perfectly adequate service operated for the UK by the European Patent Office in Munich;
- in line with the trend towards localism, trade mark and design registration are to be franchised to 12 local registries for East of England, East Midlands, London, North East England, Northern Ireland, North West England, Scotland, South East England, South West England, Wales, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber which will be offered to competitive tender; and
- It is understood that an enquiry for the search service has already been received from India and the outreach service will be put out to competitive tender.
Neither Dr Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, Lady Wilcox, Minister for Intellectual Property nor John Alty, Comptroller and Chief Executive were prepared to comment on a leaked document. However, it is understood that they are under pressure from the Chancellor to implement the report as it will result in savings of some £26 million per year.
Unions, however, have already indicated that they will oppose the move and will not rule out industrial action. There have already been threats of wildcat action by the hearing officers who are the most militant section of the IPO's work force.