The IPKat is delighted to discover that the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) unveiled late last week its six-point plan "to help underpin the UK’s reputation as a world leader in developing and exploiting intellectual property".
The old approach (right) was to repel invaders. Now they are welcomed, so long as they've got the money to invest ...
According to the organisation's press release, "All government policies should pass the test of whether they make Britain a more attractive place for innovative businesses to invest in, develop and exploit their ideas" ["More attractive" has two dimensions to it, notes the IPKat -- more attractive than it is at present, something which should not be hard to achieve, and more attractive than other places, which will require a good deal more effort]. The CBI is also pressing for the research and development tax credit to be extended, with serious consideration to be given to introducing a "royalty box" system used in Belgium [Good idea! You can read a little more about the Belgian royalty box system on IP Finance here] with the outcome that revenues from certain areas of IP, such as drug patents, would be taxed at a lower rate, encouraging R&D in the UK by both foreign and domestic companies.
The CBI’s six proposals are:
"* The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) should have a single, clear mission to act as a “champion for IP-intensive companies” across government [This is not as simple as it sounds. Some companies are IP-intensive creators while others are IP-intensive users as licensees etc. The workability of the system depends on creating a legal and commercial culture in which each will thrive]. UK Trade & Investment and the IPO should collaborate to provide a one-stop-shop for any prospective foreign investor in IP-intensive industries [IPKat suggestion: this shop should ask carefully what foreign investors want and need to know, rather than just on what UK businesses want to tell them].The press release adds that more details will feature in a new CBI report to be launched later this month, “Ripe for success: making the UK the place to develop and exploit IP”. The IPKat eagerly awaits its contents.
* The IP architecture for patents, copyright, designs and trade marks must be “fit for purpose” for all businesses in the global economy. This will require specific actions such as the introduction of a Community patent within the European Union [Not sure how this will give the UK a business edge over other EU countries, assuming that they have the Community patent too]. More broadly, the government should promote the importance of IP to the UK public and highlight the important role that IP plays in enterprise, creativity and innovation [Agreed. The first thing they can do is to erase Wallace and Gromit from the face of UK innovation. Kids might like to look at W&G exhibits and watch their films, but how many of today's youth want to grow into Wallaces and Gromits? For as long as British inventors are depicted as harmless, eccentric and ineffectual buffoons, it's no wonder that our children want to grow up to be like David and Victoria Beckham]
* All relevant future tax changes should have to pass the test “will it make the UK a more attractive place for IP-intensive businesses to invest in, develop and exploit IP?” [Rarely has the IPKat gazed with greater agreement at any sentence drafted by the CBI. This is so important] The government should also give serious consideration to a “royalty box” approach to encourage companies to register their IP in the UK and further enhance the R&D tax credit scheme to encourage more research and development in the UK.
* The quality and quantity of graduates, particularly with STEM skills, must be increased as a matter of urgency, through opting in high ability students to take all three sciences at GCSE and encouraging a greater uptake of STEM subjects at A-Level [Alas, it may be years before this bears fruit, given the poor take-up, lamentable teaching, unenthusiastic learning and dumbing-down which has characterised much of the performance of English schools over the past two decades. Let's hope for better things]. The government should also invest in laboratories in schools and encourage more work experience for young people to ensure they are enthused about and better prepared for careers in IP-intensive industries.
* The government should take more steps to improve collaboration between universities and business. The IPO should continue to market Lambert model contracts for sharing IP in business/university projects to help encourage research [Now here's something that's already working!], and working with business should be included as a criteria for academic promotion [Tricky one, this, given the different value of "working with business" within the various academic disciplines practised at universities]. Government at all levels should support the development of research clusters by maximising local strengths and avoid creating disincentives for investment ["maximising local strengths" is popular from the business/management side, but not necessarily for the academic whose route to promotion and career advancement so often requires a move to another institution].
* The government must take action to ensure a supply of venture capital funding to IP intensive start-up companies [If the tax position were right and the overall business environment were good, the government wouldn't need to take action. In the meantime, however, every little bit of support will help]. It should also establish a mechanism such as a new Industrial and Commercial Financial Corporation to provide development finance for IP-intensive businesses in the UK for the future health of the economy".