Peter Groves and Lisa Percival of Bircham Dyson Bell have alerted the IPKat that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK, Gordon Brown, has announced today the establishment of an Independent Review to examine the UK’s intellectual property framework. The Review, announced as part of the Chancellor’s Pre-Budget Report package, will be headed by Andrew Gowers, a former editor of the Financial Times and will run for 12 months. Its website can be found here.

The Government believes that the current IP system is fundamentally sound, striking the right balance between the interests of IPR owners and users, and so the Review will be examining what improvements can be made, and will make suggestions for targeted and practical policy recommendations.

In particular the Review will examine

* the way in which Government administers the awarding of IP and their support to consumers and business;
* how well businesses are able to negotiate the complexity and expense of the copyright and patent system, including copyright and patent licensing arrangements, litigation and enforcement; and
* whether the current technical and legal IP infringement framework reflects the digital environment, and whether provisions for ‘fair use’ by citizens are reasonable.
Also, the Government’s prior commitment to examining the duration of performers’ rights will be carried out as part of the Review.

Andrew Gowers

Merpel says how exciting. The IPKat agrees but urges those who work in or with intellectual property to get involved. He hopes that the Review will be an even-handed process, and that the views of those who (i) are for stronger protection; (ii) would like to maintain the status quo and (iii) favour a loosening of protection will all be heard. The IPKat says, if you have any thoughts on the subject, please don’t hesitate to leave them as comments below. If you want, you can opt to leave them anonymously by checking the anonymous box.



  1. My twopenneth:

    Although I will bet money that this will in fact happen, I do hope that the government will not be steamrollered by Cliff Richard (known to be friends with Tony and Cherie) and the rest of the music industry into extending the duration of mechanical copyright beyond 50 years. This is already too long and its extension cannot be justified, particularly on economic grounds. When would it ever be the case that a company would have to rely on making back the cost of producing a recording over 50 years after it was made? Economically, it makes much more sense to allow others more of a free rein in exploiting old forgotten recordings.

    GS Woodpecker

  2. I hope the ipkat gets put on to the rerview. At least 1) he/she/it says what it thinks and 2) we might get to find out what's happening while the review is taking place.

  3. I wholeheartedly endorse the IPKat's plea for an inclusive review. I remain, however, skeptical that the vast volume of small interests will be able to make themselves heard above the schmoozing of the vested. The controversy surrounding the software patents directive at the European level demonstrated that small players can make themselves heard and can influence the legislative process, but that was a specific debate on a specific issue. I worry that the march of such wide ranging review will be the march of expansionism led by a plethora of increasingly redundant intermediaries. The rest of us - authors, users and the like - need some class action representation in this process.

  4. Wasn't Lambert of Lambert review fame a former editor of the Financial Times too. If you think reviews of fun the government has just published the Cox review on creativity in business - see

  5. My first comment will come as no surprise. Surely it is well past time
    formats got some protection of the nature of copyright. I am as always
    happy to expand on this topic - and I was not favourably impressed,
    when I
    had a rummage on the internet recently, to see re-cycling, without
    significant fresh material, things that appear significantly to
    phrases and parts from the articles that Peter Smith, Shelley Lane, and
    wrote in the few years after 1988, and more so that the re-cyclers (and
    FRAPA website, who I do not hereby assert to be "re-cyclers") do not
    to acknowledge the work that Shelley Peter and I did on format rights.

    Second it is ridiculous that it remains criminal to interfere with copy
    protection even if it is necessary to to interfere with that copy
    to exercise rights under say sections 50A and 50B and 50C of the
    Designs and Patents Act.

    Third surely surely it is time there was a personal right of copying as
    there is for example in the USA.

    Fourth the exemption in section 61 CDPA applies only to "a performance
    of a
    song" - and not "the performance of a tune" so if a piece has no words
    all and never has had words then it is not helped by the section to be

    Finally, is it a forlorn hope that someone might stamp very very firmly
    the idiocies of the law of Data Protection? Preferably tear it up,
    tell the
    EU where to stick it, and start again. My favourite problem with it is
    if you have old files (with therefore personal details in them) but
    have no
    idea where the people referred to (not all of whom will be present or
    past clients) are, it is an offence to "process" that data without
    (which of course was not obtained years ago before the act was ever
    of) - but "processing" includes both retaining and destroying the
    Catch 22!


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