Pressure on Government over Intellectual Property


In today’s knowledge-driven society, intellectual assets, including designs, brands, patents, software and concepts are now arguably the most valuable property that this country has to protect. That’s why there are increasing calls for a shake-up of the way intellectual property is dealt with by the government.


The importance of intellectual property to the country’s economy was stressed in a recent report by an All Party Parliamentary Group led by the Conservative MP for Maldon, John Whittingdale OBE. Describing intellectual property as “a vital foundation of economic growth”, the group made a number of key recommendations, including their call for a true champion of intellectual property within the government, a role that they do not believe the extant Intellectual Property Minister, Baroness Willcox, currently satisfies.


Under the slogan “Protecting innovation, promoting enterprise”, the report voices concern that the Intellectual Property Office (which was known until 2007 as the UK Patent Office) does not see its role as that of championing the intellectual property rights of the country and that the organisation sees itself as fundamentally tasked with providing access to existing intellectual property. The group feels that this is an error that “needs to be rethought”:


“The US has clearly benefited from having an IP (Intellectual Property) Tsar, and whilst we wouldn’t necessarily want to go down that route, we do think the Minister needs to become a champion of IP (Intellectual Property).  We would like to see a small unit within the IPO (Intellectual Property Office) fulfilling that role or if they are unwilling to, a small team in BIS (Department for Business, Industry and Skills) undertaking that function.” – All Party IP Group


Dr Michael Servian is a leading intellectual property expert and Partner at Freeth Cartwright’s Stoke office, who sympathises with the recommendations of the cross-parliamentary group:


“I’m delighted that intellectual property is being given the priority it deserves in parliament. We are a country of innovators, designers and creatives across a wide range of industries and areas. It is vital that we protect our intellectual property in order to safeguard our economy and protect our assets. The law has the mechanisms in place that protect intellectual property, however, it is vital for the economy that the correct procedures are followed by both government and individual companies to protect their rights and that the laws are enforced.”


As one of our leading intellectual property lawyers, Dr Servian has championed the intellectual property of Britain’s businesses in the courts and has also designed a university course relating to intellectual property law. He believes that intellectual property is more open for abuse than ever before, requiring extra vigilance from companies:


“With the increasing popularity of online shopping and the expansion of the internet and the digital realm in our lives in general, intellectual property is becoming an increasingly complex and ever more important aspect of the way companies protect themselves, their brands and their products. There are more counterfeit goods than ever in the UK, and there are more forms of digital intellectual property infringement such as cyber squatting too.”


These new forms and the increasing prevalence of intellectual property infringement require constant combative measures from companies in order to protect the most valuable asset of any business: its reputation. While intellectual property might seem intangible, its impact on the economy and its importance to businesses cannot be underestimated.