The government often gets a bad rep for not doing enough for UK enterprise but in the wake of Budget 2014, things are really looking up for Blighty’s start-ups and SMEs. The new Intellectual Property Act, due to be given Royal Assent today, could mean savings of up to £40m a year for UK businesses.
On top of the creation of new powers for the UK to implement a Unified Patent Court Agreement, the Act will provide new protection for designers and introduce a number of online services to help businesses better manage their IP. And that’s not all. The Act will also be tackling a business’s worst enemy: red tape. This should help remove some of the uncertainties that companies face when it comes to protecting their designs.
The new measures are expected to take effect from October this year and are all expected to be implemented by late 2015. Here are the policies that can can be reasonably labelled as ‘headliners’:
- New protections for pre-publication research to ensure the UK’s universities and research sector remain world-leaders.
- The introduction of a criminal sanction for intentional copying of registered designs. This will deter those who knowingly copy UK registered designs and will provide greater protection for our much-cherished design sector.
- Measures to help businesses assess the strength of their IP case before going through formal and costly legal proceedings, with the creation of a design opinions service.
- The expansion of the existing patent opinions service to give businesses involved in potential patent litigation an impartial view on the strength of their case on a much wider range of issues.
- An exemption to the Freedom of Information Act to better protect pre-publication research. As a result, researchers can more easily validate and analyse their work before putting it into the public domain.
- Allowing the UK Intellectual Property Office to share information on unpublished patent applications with other national patent offices. This will help clear backlogs internationally.
“I am confident that this Act will further strengthen our world-class IP system and to help businesses of all sizes continue to thrive,” said Lord Younger, minister for Intellectual Property. “Continued investment in intellectual property is vital to all businesses, as it contributes £16 billion to the UK economy each year. It is essential that we continue to work hard to create the right environment for them to flourish so we can benefit from their creative designs, inventions and ideas.”