For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Friday, 27 April 2012

IPAN Celebrates World IP Day 2012 at the House of Commons


Readers of the IPKat will by now doubtless be aware that yesterday was World IP Day. The Intellectual Property Awareness Network (IPAN) celebrated the day with an event at the Terrace Pavilion in the Palace of Westminster, by kind invitation of Pete Wishart MP.  The IPKat Blogmeister was on his way to Riga, so this guest Kat went in his stead to the event to give a report to our dear readers.

This Kat attempted for the first time live tweeting from the event. Readers can imagine the comedy scene of fluffy paws trying to operate a smartphone (of an un-named brand), and may amuse themselves perusing the results @EIP_Elements.

A more conventional report of the event follows here.

Peter Prowse, the Chair of IPAN, opened with comments reflecting on the longevity of brands for beer – not just the Bass label that is Registered Trade Mark No 1 in the UK, but also Stella Artois and Lowenbrau, which are very much older.  Cribbing from the press release, the IPKat can quote him saying: “We live in a knowledge-based economy. However, to profit from the fruits of their knowledge, individuals, businesses and investors need to be clear about their ownership and the creativity that they develop from it.  Without a clear intellectual property framework, nobody can profit from their ideas and the UK economy will stall.”

Pete Wishart MP
Pete Wishart MP, our host, was revealed to be the first MP to have appeared on Top of the Pops. He welcomed IPAN and WIPO to the House of Commons on a day which was about celebrating creativity. He encouraged us that Parliament getting more interested in IP, and, indeed, some other MPs were observed in the audience of the event.

Baroness Wilcox, our Minister for IP, was the next speaker.  Apparently the UK is the only country to have a Minister whose sole responsibility for IP.  Baroness Wilcox is the fourth incumbent of this position and the longest serving to date.

She asked what is being done for SMEs, and about the fact that patent offices are struggling to keep up with demand. She highlighted  PPH and PCT as two examples of patent office cooperation to help address the backlog.

Baroness Wilcox
She assured us of the support that the Government has pledged for the unitary patent and single European court for patent litigation - we are nearly there after almost 41 years! She reminded us that court location important. (Many of us hope that this means that the Government is still campaigning hard for the seat of the central division to be London).  Even more importantly, Baroness Wilcox stressed that the rules of the European patent court have to be correct and assured us that the Government is committed not to sign any agreement until correct rules are in place.

The Minister recalled the finding of Prof Hargreaves that lack of good advice and high cost are problems for SMEs, and also referred to Digital Copyright Exchange (DCE) (See later talk from Richard Hooper).

Baroness Wilcox recalled that the recent budget had introduced the Patent Box from 2013 - lower company corporation tax levels for profits relating to patented products and processes.

Finally, the Minister mentioned another example of international IP cooperation – IP attaches attached to embassies. The first one is already in Beijing and India will be announced soon. Then Brazil, and then in the far east, maybe Singapore.

Up next was Emma Wild from CBI on the business perspective on IP.  She stated that the UK IP regime is respected around the world, and reminded us that many UK industries rely on patents, copyright, and trade marks to protect their designs and creativity.  She considered that the Government needs to be a champion for IP and IP rich industries, and advocated collaboration with industry to protect business models which rely on IP.  In particular, she spoke against expansion of copyright exceptions that would undermine these business models.

Dr Guriqbal Singh Jaiya
Dr Guriqbal Singh Jaiya from WIPO was the next speaker, who had come all the way from Geneva to be with us. Director of SME division until December 2011.  He considered that a major challenge of IP is that it is seen as esoteric subject that is the exclusive province of small group of IP lawyers.  He also saw the balance of IP as being multifaceted with many stakeholders, and asked how the benefits of creativity should be allocated.  He referred to a number of recent high profile deals involving IP where patent portfolios have changed hands for very high sums, thus showing the potential high value that can be attached to intangibles.  The question then, however, he considered, is how that high value should be distributed among stakeholders.

Dr Jaiya informed us that at WIPO on World IP Day the late Steve Jobs of Apple was being honoured, so it seemed quite apt that in the UK IPO poll Sir Jonathan Ive - Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple Inc. had been voted Favourite British Visionary Innovator 2012.

Dr Jaiya stated that the challenge of raising awareness even more important than unification of patent system, and he praised in particular Korea and China for their efforts in raising IP awareness. In China apparently there are IP offices all round the country in all major cities.

Dr Jaiya considered that in WIPO divergent interests come together, and noted that now, through TRIPS, IP has also spilled over from WIPO to the WTO.

Richard Hooper from the IPO spoke next on his Digital Copyright Exchange feasibility study.  You can see his Phase 1 report here.  Phase 2 of his work is seeking solutions to the issues that he has identified.

It is recognised that all industry sectors have a need for better data to identify copyright work and its many variants; to identify who owns what rights; and to ensure accurate and timely payments to creators/rights holders.  The idea is that a DCE would provide an automated copyright licensing system which could mitigate the complexity of current licensing systems and collecting societies to address this need.  However, in order to achieve this, it would need to be:

  • Able to handle high volumes of low value copyright licensing transactions at low cost
  • Easy to access and to use
  • Linked to a well signposted, easy to navigate copyright hub
  • Interoperable

The interoperability and compatibility issue is key, and a major obstacle is the lack of a common language and agreed operational standards for expressing, identifying and communicating rights information both across industry sectors and across national borders.

Other issues that Richard Hooper mentioned are:

  • Dealing with orphan works, and how to achieve mass digitisation.
  • Specific issues of complexity and expense in relation to educational institutions and in relation to the music industry.
  • The “repertoire imbalance” – the fact that some works are available only in pirated form and licensed versions do exist.

The last speaker was Dids Macdonald of IPAN.  She told us about the work of IPAN.  It is not a lobbying organisation although some of its member organisations are.  It publishes in its website issue briefs on a number of IP related issues.  As its name suggests it seeks to raise awareness of IP.

An interesting point that she raised was that, although intangible assets are widely held to be important (as Dr Jaiya had also said), it is difficult to raise finance on the basis of intangibles.

Final words go to Peter Prowse:
“All Parliamentarians have an interest in the economic prosperity of this country so they should all be familiar with the issues around intellectual property. We need effective IP regulations appropriate for an increasingly knowledge based economy, to help drive the UK recovery forward.”

The IPKat has long wearily despaired that it is not apparently possible even today to read a news item relating to intellectual property in which the words “copyright”, “patent” and “trade mark” are used with their correct meaning.  Dr Jaiya’s comments about IP being seen as an esoteric subject that is the exclusive domain of a small number of specialist practitioners therefore seem especially apt.  Regardless of our individual affiliations, therefore, it is for all of us to play some part in raising the awareness of IP.  This Kat therefore felt very privileged to be present yesterday and thanks all who worked so hard on making the event possible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What was the point of Favourite British Visonary Innovator 2012?

Sir Jonathan Ive is British but all of his innovation work is for a US company. Is this a good news story for the UK or flagging the national weakness in innovation?

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