The UK’s International Strategy for Intellectual Property

In my post on Lord Marland ("Lord Marland becomes Minister for Intellectual Property" 15 Sept 2012I) I referred to The UK’s International Strategy for Intellectual Property, As there was considerably more interest in that policy document than there was in the Minister in my feedback I have decided to take a closer look at that document.

In Digital Opportunity A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth Professor Ian Hargreaves recommended that

"The UK should resolutely pursue its international interests in IP, particularly with respect to emerging economies such as China and India, based upon positions grounded in economic evidence. It should attach the highest immediate priority to achieving a unified EU patent court and EU patent system, which promises significant economic benefits to UK business. The UK should work to make the Patent Cooperation Treaty a more effective vehicle for international processing of patent applications."

He amplified his thinking in Chapter 3 of his review. HM government accepted all Professor Hargreaves's recommendations including this one and the policy document considers how that strategy may be implemented.

The executive summary declares that the government's overreaching aim is

"An efficient, respected international intellectual property system that encourages innovation and creativity while enabling the economy and society to benefit from knowledge and ideas."

Its key goals are

"1. A Well-Functioning International Framework Reform of the international IP system – including work on improving uptake of the Patent Co-operation Treaty to tackle patent backlogs that cost the global economy up to £7.6 billion per year of additional pendency, and reform at the World Intellectual Property Organisation, where finances and governance have historically proven difficult.

Influence in Europe, the source of much of the IP framework governing UK business, and often negotiating on behalf of the UK government – pushing for a unitary EU patent and patent court with real benefits for business; working to secure EU copyright reforms that will lead to increased growth and economic benefits, such as cross-border licensing; and work to ensure IP elements of Free Trade Agreements are in line with UK priorities.

2. Good National Regimes Pushing for more effective and consistent enforcement of IP laws within national regimes – by strengthening relationships with key economies like China, India, Brazil, and the US, and establishing a network of IP Attachés.

Providing practical support to business operating overseas – the Intellectual Property Office will work with UKTI, supported by the FCO, and the IP Attaché network, to provide this.

3. Economic and Technological Development Striking the right balance between industrial and development priorities, to help stimulate economic growth and tackle critical global challenges – tailoring IP policy to the level of development of countries, pushing for further TRIPS flexibilities for Least Developed Countries, and supporting diffusion of medicines and climate change technology."

A schematic on page 2 spells out the detailed policy and shows how all those goals come together to achieve the overall aim.  All good stuff, but how much influence can be exerted in Europe which is recognized correctly as "the source of much of the IP framework governing UK business, and often negotiating on behalf of the UK government" by a government that has stood aloof from Europe on many issues and which contains many Euro-sceptic elements?


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