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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Save our Sites! Under threat from GOBBLE.UP

Is there such a thing as a season for messing up popular and well-organised intellectual property websites? This Kat used to think that there wasn't -- but now he's not so sure.  From Martin Krause (a partner in the patent and trade mark attorney practice of Haseltine Lake LLP) comes a wake-up call/cri de coeur which all good souls who use official IP websites should heed.  He writes:
"I don’t know how many people are aware that the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) website is about to be swallowed by the central government GOV.UK site. If you go to www.gov.uk/government/organisations/intellectual-property-office you will see that there is a space waiting for it and it is going to happen “soon”. There are rumours that the site will be re-designed in the process and I have contacted the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (of which the UKIPO is an executive agency) to find out when the site is to be moved, what changes will be made to it and by whom.

The theory ...
As we have seen with OHIM’s re-designed site [on which see Birgit's Katpost here and David Musker's post on Class 99 here], thorough testing prior to launch is essential to ensure a smooth transition so, unless the plan is to graft the current UKIPO site on to GOV.UK site (with, perhaps, some cosmetic changes) I hope there will be a robust testing schedule for the new site. UK businesses should also expect it to offer no less information and support than is available on the UKIPO site at present.

... and the practice
Let’s also hope that the new site isn’t put together by the people who have worked on the IP bits of the “Businesses and self-employed” section of the GOV.UK site (www.gov.uk/business). IP, sadly, doesn’t make it on to the “popular pages” section; but if you look at the bottom of the page, just above “Waste and environmental impact”, you will see “Trademarks, copyright and intellectual property”. I can forgive the misspelling of “trade marks” [Merpel can't ...], but where is the reference to patents? And wouldn’t links to the UKIPO site have been a better bet for information on IP than the rather amateurish efforts on the site? For example, under the heading “Register a trademark” it states “You can’t make changes to your trademark after it’s been registered.” What on earth are you supposed to do with a bit of information like that without further explanation?"
Thanks so much, Martin. Now is the time for all good readers to mobilise! Write to your professional organisations [this often works] and your local Members of Parliament [this almost never does, but it's quite therapeutic]-- and then begin to pray that GOV.UK, a.k.a. GOBBLE.UP, won't be allowed to swallow up the excellent content and functionality of the current IPO website.

4 comments:

ron said...

I understand that it's government policy, and facts are unlikely to change government policy once it's been enshrined in tablets of stone, no matter how good the arguments are. Putting all the eggs in one basket is probably on someone's list of objectives for the year, so keeping things as they are will be an uphill struggle.

Anonymous said...

I don't see what all the fuss is about. The Govt is clearly recognising the true position of IP in the UK economy. That is no status at all; it's dire. Industry will not be up in arms about this. The Govt does not have to listen to the IP professions because they rarely get excited enough to be heard.

Anyway apart from the professional fucntionality the rest is banal hogwash.

So this is a great opportunity for the IP professions to have a much higher profile in providing the sensible and meaningful messages around IP. About time the UKIPO faded into the background.

Chris Torrero said...

In my last role, I used to use government websites frequently. In every case, the transfer of a website to the "Gov.uk" platform resulted in a serious loss of functionality and detail, useful information such as functional directories, historical publications, contact points for individual sections (allowing the useless "helpdesks" to be bypassed - When I was at the Patent Office, the then DTI helpdesk sent us an enquiry on VAT), was removed. The aim of the new websites seems to be appearance and standardisation at the price of utility.

ron said...

It's mentioned in the IPO's Corporate plan for 2013/14, page 23:

We will also work alongside GDS to migrate our web site content to the new government web site www.gov.uk by March 2014. This will allow our customers to access IP information and services alongside a wide range of other business and government information through a single web site.

It seems to be cast in tablets of stone then.

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