Business abhors uncertainty, they say – if
they’re prone to quick cliché –
and nothing is more uncertain than Brexit. That maxim is
particularly true if you’re an IP professional in
the UK and face disruption on all fronts – in trade
marks, copyright and even patents. That’s why many
were likely glad to hear from a range of speakers at
yesterday’s IPAN World IP Day about the bright
future of a global Britain.
The speaker that blew everyone away, of course, was IP
minister Sam Gyimah, who chose the occasion to announce that
the UK had ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement. "We are
well placed to turn the changes that are to be an essential
part of our exit [from the EU] into opportunities," he said.
"One of those opportunities is to make sure we continue to
strengthen and develop the international IP framework. And
today I am pleased to confirm that the UK has ratified the
Unified Patent Court Agreement."
His speech was difficult for other speakers to come after,
but the rest of the talks did an excellent job of setting out
the strength of the UK’s IP industry and the
opportunities that could still be reaped in a post-Brexit
Britain. Debbie Bestwick, CEO of computer games company Team17,
for example, spoke of the entrepreneurial spirit that has come
to define Britain’s gaming industry.
"The UK has deep roots in contribution to the global games
industry," she said. "In addition to beloved 80s and 90s
franchises, the UK has produced some of the most iconic and
global games IP the world had ever known. From our own Worms
franchise, to Tomb Raider and the Grand Theft Auto series."
Tim Moss, chief executive of the UK IPO, followed by talking
about changes to the IP landscape and how effective global
enforcement is more important than ever. "This is a truly
international and global issue. I was surprised and amazed to
hear an example a couple of months ago about counterfeit goods
being labelled as UK goods being imported into China. Who would
have thought of that?"
Allie Renson, head of Europe and trade policy at the
Institute of Directors, later set out her thoughts on IP in
terms of future trading relationships. "There’s a
tendency to think that the only channel through which IP rights
can be extended and enforced is through trade agreements.
Actually there is an international web made up of the EPO,
WIPO, TRIPS and such. There’s lots of pieces to
the puzzle in terms of how you facilitate trade through IP
exports and IP intensive industries."
Chris Warkup, CEO of Innovate UK’s Knowledge
Transfer Network, rounded off the afternoon by speaking about
encouraging, engaging and funding start-ups and the role of IP
in that process. One part of the challenge, he said, we
incentivising universities to see IP as a way to grow long-term
partnerships with businesses.
"Dave Roblin, who spent time as the first COO at the Francis
Crick Institute behind the British Library, had the most
wonderful description for his technology transfer office. Dave
said: 'The job of our TTO is to deliver our science into
capable hands’. Just how much more value might we
capture from the UK if that was the approach taken by our
Overall, the afternoon provided valuable insight into the
direction of the UK IP industry, including where opportunities
can be found and improvements made. Let’s hope
those lessons are followed.
Here are some of the highlights from Twitter also: