Divide and rule: a new regime for governing British IP

The Right Honourable Lord
Marland: we know he's a Lord
and hope he will be both
Honourable and, dare we
say, Right a bit more often
than his predecessor ...
This member of the Kat family is seething with annoyance at the announcement, "Ministerial responsibilities announced at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills", which has emanated from the UK government department responsible for, among other things, IP. The only good news, which is not mentioned in the media release, is that Baroness Wilcox has been relieved of her role as the Minister answerable for intellectual property matters. While she came to the position with an encouraging CV plus the goodwill of the entire IP community, her only solid achievement was to make her predecessor, the amiable and sympathetic David Lammy MP, look like a hard act to follow. The generally expressed view was that the Baroness was simply not thriving in her role and that she should either have been given more help and support, or relocated to a more amenable role a long time ago.

The part of the media release that annoys this Kat is the bit that reads:
""Lord Marland: Parliamentary Under Secretary
  • Covers all BIS business in the Lords except Trade and Investment
  • Intellectual property (including the IPO)
  • ERR Bill [that's Enterprise and Regulatory Reform ...]
  • Support for Minister for Trade and Investment on trade promotion
  • Chair of Council of Business Ambassadors".
He does not however have responsibility for "small business, enterprise and access to finance" (which goes to Michael Fallon MP), "Innovation" (David Willetts MP) or "single market and implementation" (Lord Green). If there is any better evidence that the UK government is taking positive steps to avoid any sort of joined-up innovation, creation and intellectual property policy, do let us this Kat know.

Merpel has done some research on Lord Marland. He has some background in business and commerce, but this is unlikely to be an immediate asset in his new roles. According to Wikipedia, his expertise has been principally in the area of insurance though, unreassuringly for British manufacturers -- what little is left of that species -- "In 2007 he led the closure of the British manufacturing operations of Hunter Wellington Boots and move of the manufacturing of the Hunter product range offshore, largely to Chinese owned and run factories within China".

Neither Merpel nor the IPKat are happy at the spread of IP so thinly across so many ministerial portfolios. Nor are they happy at the burden which Lord Marland will be expected to shoulder in addition to IP and the Office which has so valiantly worked to keep itself as accessible, user-friendly and helpful as its exiguous funding permits.  The pair welcome Lord Marland and wish him well: they also promise him that, if he should ever be in need of advice, support and encouragement, the readers of this weblog will be pleased to  tell him what do do  offer him their advice.
Divide and rule: a new regime for governing British IP Divide and rule: a new regime for governing British IP Reviewed by Jeremy on Friday, September 07, 2012 Rating: 5


  1. What's to be annoyed at? It's like howling at the moon.

    Avoid taking steps? That makes me howl with laughter. When will the IP professions learn that Govt policy/structure/ expertise relating to IP and the UKIPO activities are totally irrelevant to effective innovation in the UK and our future?

    This is just another example of the UK's inept approach to business. Even if these roles were in a single body it would make no difference.

  2. Re the ipo'S "exiguous funding", it is apparent, inter alia from the IPO's steering board minutes, that the IPO is currently generating a considerable surplus of income over expenditure. Rather than being used to provide improved services to the IPO's users, the BIS has developed the philosophy that, as the IPO is a trading fund, the BIS is its shareholder and is entitled to cream off the surplus as a "dividend".

    I recall attending a meeting at CIP circa 1990 when trading fund status was nmooted, when the Patent Office speaker was hopeful that trading fund status wold allow it to give the Po's usres the services that they were prepared to pay for, Unfortunately trading fiund status has not resulted in freedom from political control.

  3. The entire IP system is so incredibly out of sync with the digital age and innovation that it needs significant overhaul - or heaven forbid 'innovative thinking'

    The IP review consultations and reports have, no big surprise, resulted in handing the hot potato to 'industry' to sort out and fund.

    But who is industry? Do they predominently mean the existing intermediary gate keepers who have failed to evolve anyway and only seek to protect existing territories first and foremost.

    Government know the IP system is broken but doing anything to fix it for the benefit of Creators and SME innovators might involve upsetting some big players - and they don't want to risk that blood on their carpet.

    Any IP Kat readers up for pulling together and 'innovating'?

    If so drop your email address here and I'll send you an email


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