reported yesterday, law firm Taylor
Wessing has published the fourth edition of its Global IP
Index, which compares the IP regimes in 36 countries.
Of course, the first thing we all look for is
who’s high, who’s low,
who’s up and who’s down. (Expect some
celebration from UK government ministers at its top rank
– Business Secretary Vince Cable has been known to cite the
But when you look closer at the Index, and in particular
compare it with the three previous iterations,
what’s notable is that generally speaking the gap
between countries is narrowing.
The methodology of the Index is slightly complex, but in
summary each country is assigned a rating between 0 and 1000.
In 2011, in GIPI 3, the top rating was 751 (Germany) and the
bottom was 537 (India). In GIPI 4, the top rating is 657 (UK) and the
bottom is 565 (India, again).
In other words, the gap between top and bottom has narrowed
significantly from 214 to 92 points, with the lower-ranked
countries climbing up considerably and the top-ranked ones
remaining stable or even declining a bit. And that is despite
the addition of 12 new countries.
I asked Roland Mallinson, the Taylor Wessing partner who has
coordinated the GIPI since its inception, what he made of this.
He believes the narrowing spread is partly due to harmonisation
(of law and enforcement) and partly that "expectations have
risen" due to globalisation, with offices, lawyers and courts
in developing countries striving to improve.
It’s certainly true that the past couple of
years have seen some prominent initiatives towards
harmonisation (though we are yet to see the effect of many of
these). Consider the US America Invents Act, the EU Unitary
Patent/UPC and the recently announced amendments to China’s Trade Mark
More generally, as
Roland points out, membership of international treaties is
growing. We have written extensively about the expansion of the Madrid System for trade
marks, and it’s notable that New Zealand, which
joined Madrid last year, rose up six places in the GIPI trade
mark ranking this year. Similarly, systems such as the PCT and
the Hague Agreement (for design rights) are growing (with the
US, China, Korea, Japan and Russia all expected to join the
You wouldn’t want to overstate things: there
are still a lot of areas where harmonisation can be improved,
and least-developed countries were recently granted an eight-year extension to comply with the
TRIPs Agreement. But the IP Index suggests users perceive that,
in IP terms, the world is getting smaller – and that
must be welcome.