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 universities?”
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: