15 September 2012

Lord Marland becomes Minister for Intellectual Property

One of the least reported changes in the recent ministerial reshuffle has been the replacement of Baroness Wilcox as Minister for Intellectual Property by the Rt. Hon. Lord Marland.  As he is not exactly a household name I looked him up Lord Marland on Wikipedia and found that he had enjoyed a successful career in business. One of his businesses was Hunter  Boot Ltd which he saved by transferring production from Britain to China (see "Hunter Boots owner Lord Marland looks for new prey" The Telegraph 14 Feb 2009). He had been less successful in politics  contesting Somerton and Frome for the Tories in the 2001 general election and coming second.

Lady Wilcox had been rather a good minister in my view. For instance, she had backed patent reform opening the first WIPO patents symposium in London on 6 March 2012. That is one of the objectives of the IPO's international strategy (see "The UK’s International Strategy for Intellectual Property" 11 Aug 2012). I saw her at the "Cracking Ideas" awards ceremony in Wallasey in June (see "Cracking Ideas: My Encounter with Wallace & Gromit" NIPC Inventors Club blog 20 June 2012). Lord Ashcroft has apparently described the sacking of good ministers as "mystifying" (see "Lord Ashcroft: Reshuffle was 'mystifying'" Independent 15 September 2012).  In Lady Wilcox's case I am inclined to agree.

Whether rightly or wrongly she has gone and we must welcome Lord Marland and wish him every success. He takes office at a crucial moment with the implementation of the Hargreaves report.  If I had to choose a Minister for Intellectual Property I would consider Sharon Bowles MEP who is at least a patent agents as well as Chair of the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament.  There is no reason why she could not have been ennobled but perhaps she prefers to stay where she is.

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