"Chancellor George Osborne, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke and Business Secretary Vince Cable have each notched up a pro-business innovation initiative:
1 New incentives in the tax system for businesses to innovate and patent their inventions [on which see Anne Fairpo's IP Finance posts here and here];
2 Reformed IP enforcement – dramatic changes to make it much easier and cheaper for innovative businesses to enforce their patents and other IP rights [on which see the series of PCC Pages on PatLit, listed here];
3 Strong support for a cheaper European Union patent system, with an initiative to make it simpler for British firms to get their innovative products patented throughout Europe, without all the current substantial costs of translation [on which see earlier IPKat posts here and elsewhere].
‘Since they took up their portfolios in May, ministers have been pinning their hopes on innovation as the tonic that will revitalise the economy and end the recession,’ says Alasdair Poore. ‘The parting shot of the Labour government was to rush through its Digital Economy Act [on which see comments here and earlier on the 1709 Blog], which raised as many new questions as it answered. But it did succeed in pushing innovation and intellectual property yet further up the political agenda. The coalition government is pushing the connection between new ideas and the need for a 21st century system for protecting them, to the benefit of the economy. They have been quick to commission a new review of IP [the Hargreaves Review, on which see the Kats' comments here], which Prime Minister David Cameron announced along with his intention of creating a ‘silicon valley of East London’.
... ‘China’s manufacturing output overtook the UK’s a long time ago,’ says Alasdair Poore. ‘Its government is now competing with the UK’s to promote innovation and development of ideas, and patent protection for them, as a key driver for its growing economy. For example, Chinese firms that register patents outside China can get a grant of $8,000 [great idea -- and good news for translators too!]. Chancellor George Osborne recognised that this country needs to provide similar incentives for innovation when he announced the so-called ‘patent box’ in his autumn statement. This is proposes to cut corporation tax to just 10 per cent for revenues from patents. According to pharmaceutical industry experts, that announcement has already encouraged major companies [Glaxo, at any rate] to invest over half a billion pounds in the UK’. ...
[Cutting to the bit about enforcement:] 'On October 1, the government introduced the reformed Patents County Court system, making it a quicker and much more affordable process — particularly for small firms. With the almost simultaneous appointment of His Honour Judge Birss QC as its highly impressive judge, the PCC now provides companies with a low-cost way to enforce their patents and other IP rights. Procedures have been enormously simplified, trials will be limited to a maximum of two days within months of proceedings being issued, and recoverable costs are kept to a minimum, resulting in much cheaper affordable means of enforcing their IP rights for businesses.’The IPKat likes the idea of giving governments an end-of-term report, based on their IP-friendliness -- and he agrees with CIPA that the coalition government has done pretty well so far. He has a few black marks to hand out too, though. The first relates to the apparent lack of overt government support and enthusiasm for a proper means of seizing and retaining counterfeit goods that are not (allegedly) intended for sale in the European Union but are merely taking a short-cut across its territory. A second relates to the lack of interest shown in coordinating the various tentacles of public sector enforcement (customs, police, trading standards officers, recovery of the proceeds of crime) and indeed private sector enforcement so as to provide more fluency in both administrative and judicial matters. A third is the woefully short time that the government, via the Intellectual Property Office, gives interested parties to respond on European Court of Justice litigation and the lack of transparency (you can't see whether other people have already made the same comments and you've no idea whether the government is going to accept, modify or reject your suggestions). The fourth is the continued failure to press for prompt English-language translations of Court of Justice decisions and Advocate Generals' Opinions so that we can know what's going on. He suspects that readers may have their own black marks to add and that he may soon be reading them as readers' comments.
... ‘Much of the work in preparing the ground for these initiatives had taken place long before the coalition government came to power,’ says Alasdair Poore. ‘Nonetheless, it is to ministers’ credit that they have taken decisive action to encourage British businesses to innovate and to make sure that the IP system is fit for the digital economy of the 21st century.’"
Says Merpel, "ministers have been pinning their hopes on innovation as the tonic that will revitalise the economy and end the recession" -- but tonic's not much good without the gin (click here for gin and tonic), which is the IP system. Without the gin, why bother investing in the tonic at all? She adds, CIPA say of the Digital Economy Act that it succeeded in "pushing innovation and intellectual property yet further up the political agenda". This is true. However, pushing IP up the agenda may be likened to pushing an enema up its chosen path -- people start regarding it as a pain in the proverbial and it never gathers any momentum before the initiative dissolves.