From October 2016 to March 2017 the team is joined by Guest Kats Rosie Burbidge and Eibhlin Vardy, and by InternKats Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo, Tian Lu and Hayleigh Bosher.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Bye-bye Mike -- but will we soon say hello to an IP Tsar?

On Wednesday afternoon, taking the opportunity to get away from his computer for a bit, this Kat sauntered down Chancery Lane to attend an address given by the affable Mike Weatherley MP (Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister, Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade and unashamed promulgator of Rock the House) to the Intellectual Property Awareness Network (IPAN).

This address was ostensibly an invitation to Mike (right of centre) to tell us all about his role in championing IP, but in truth it was a lot more than that.  For one thing it was a chance for us to tell him what we thought of government IP policy.  Secondly it was a chance for almost all of us to say what a great idea if we too had an Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (the so-called "IP Tsar"), such as there currently exists in the United States.   Ideally the British version should be intelligent, articulate, forceful, well-resourced and impeccably connected, possessed of all the powers necessary to discharge that role and enough brazen cheek to exceed those powers and get away with it, not to mention [irrespective of gender, orientation and age, adds the ever-egalitarian Merpel] a pretty face and a good pair of legs.

The official version of the event, ever so lightly edited, runs like this:
"In his speech, Mike highlighted his background in IP, his two parliamentary competitions which were established to raise awareness of IP, Rock the House and Film the House. Mike also detailed what he has achieved as the IP Adviser to the PM, a role which he has held since September 2013. Mike has worked closely with both the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the exciting, imaginative new national Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) [on which see earlier Katposts here and here].

Among other things, Mike has published two reports on the protection of IP: 
  • Search Engines and Piracy: A Discussion Paper, here
  • Follow the Money: Financial Options to Assist in the Battle Against Online Piracy (which addresses the detrimental impact of illegal websites profiting from advertising) here
A report on Education will be published in the next few weeks.

Commenting on the Follow the Money report, the Prime Minister [who was in Scotland at the time, campaigning to preserve the UK's unitary patent, trade mark and design systems, Merpel notes] said: 
“Mike Weatherley's Follow the Money discussion paper is an interesting addition to this important area of work and the Government will look at it closely [Merpel hopes that the Government will go one step beyond looking closely at it and will actually take the trouble to read it]. It is encouraging that creative industries are building a stronger relationship with our enforcement bodies, such as the new national Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit that the Government has established. Intellectual Property is an important property right that contributes enormously to our economy.” ...
Sadly for all true IP supporters, Mike is hanging up his Parliamentary boots at the next Election in order to pursue an honest career outside Westminster.  He will be a hard act to follow, but in truth Mike is nothing more than an act: as IP adviser to the Prime Minister he is not blessed with funds, powers and the ability to make things happen. What's more, he has operated in a political environment in which a revolving door has seen a rapid sequences of Ministers for Intellectual Property come and go, the most recent arrival being Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe. In circumstances such as these, continuity, consistency and influence on the part of the Prime Minister are no more than a dream; it is a marvel that Mike has been able to make any sort of impact at all, and it is to his credit that he did.

The IPKat weblog has carried numerous pieces on the advantages of having an Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (see eg here, here, here and here), and this Kat in particular is keen to reopen the debate in the near future. He'd love to hear from readers in the United States as to how they regard the office, as well as from the UK and indeed elsewhere as to how an Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator could benefit them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Where is Mike going?

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