launch of its 2014-15 research priorities last week, the
IPO’s directors emphasised what they
are doing, in the words of Chief Executive John Alty, to "help
promote innovation in the UK".
This is partly of course about efficiently handling
applications and renewals, and discussing matters of policy
with other countries. But increasingly it is also about talking
to businesses and consumers about IP creation and use.
Indeed, two of the ministerial targets set for the IPO in
- Reach an audience of 5 million people with messages to
build respect for IP by end of March 2015
- Reach an audience of 10,000 businesses through the IP for
Business online tool by end of March 2015
In the coming year, the Office is also working to deliver an
Enforcement Summit, to promote web tools for students and to
IP Equip advice tool. Among other initiatives it has recruited
the cartoon characters Wallace and Gromit (right) to
educate children, launched the IP
Connect newsletter and supported the Karaoke
Shower (apparently, there is a video of Alty performing
– luckily I couldn’t find it online).
Wilkinson (below), the Office’s
enthusiastic innovation director, this is not enough, though.
Speaking last week, she said there is "lots more to do to wake
businesses up to manage their IP"; stressed that there was room
to "improve understanding for businesses and the financial
services community" and added for good measure: "Too many
accountants know very little about IP."
Reagan’s gag (which you can see on YouTube),
I expect most IP practitioners will welcome these kinds of
government initiatives (though the UK IPO is strictly speaking
an "Executive Agency" rather than the government itself). I
know that more and more national offices all over the world are
looking at how they can promote IP education and training, and
play a role in enforcement and deterrence.
On the other hand, there may be owners of patents, trade
marks and other rights who don’t appreciate
government intervention, and object to money (which ultimately
comes from users’ fees) being spent in this
Which camp are you in? Please send us your comments.