Alliance reflects on priorities for new governments: Part 1

The Alliance for Intellectual Property (formerly the Alliance Against IP Theft) -- a British-based body consisting of organisations that represent the interests of businesses working in intellectual property-based industrial and commercial sectors -- held its third annual meeting today in the plush and prestigious premises of The Royal Society, Carlton House Terrace. The theme: "Priorities for new governments: meeting consumer and business expectations in the UK and Europe" [very subtle, notes Merpel: "consumer" is mentioned ahead of "business" -- and "UK" ahead of Europe. Also, Part 1 of the programme is called "UK 2015", while the second is "Europe 2014". Is someone contemplating a post-EU British IP policy, she wonders].

Following an introduction by chairman Richard Mollet, we were treated to a presentation by Rick Nye of market research company Populus on public attitudes towards IP. Rick took the audience through some poll figures drawn from an online poll of 2,000 adults. Two-fifths of those polled admitted to performing one type of infringer or another. People born after 1980 are twice as likely to infringe as those born earlier -- and even those who illegally access or copy material concede that it causes a problem for IP owners and content providers. There was a good deal of support among all age groups for the notion that some sort of regulation was acceptable for the internet, and around half looked for cues as to whether sites accessed were okay or not. The full results of this poll will be made available on the Populus website.

Next came a keynote speech from Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills -- the government department within which the UK's Intellectual Property Office belongs. This turned out to be the Minister's second time round with the Alliance. "We have a collective interest in the creation and protection of intellectual property", he said, pointing to the size of the British creative sector and the large number of people employed in it.  As for protection, the Minister claimed that the UK was the second most pro-IP jurisdiction in the world, citing the Taylor Wessing Global Intellectual Property Index. Dr Cable then listed a large number of initiatives which the government is taking, largely in collaboration with industry, to provide more and better information and advice concerning IP and innovation protection; the Prime Minister now had his own IP adviser in Mike Weatherley MP. IP crime prevention is now very much on the IP agenda too.

Financing small companies that need to grow is crucial --and the banks have become much more conservative in the current economic climate. Both on the equity and the loans side of things, banks appear little interested in intellectual assets rather than tangible ones. Other forms of assistance are now being provided, however, such as the creation of attaches to assist British companies in overseas markets and introduction of a small claims track of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court. Amidst warm applause, the Minister concluded by pledging his leadership and support to Britain's creative industries.

Answering questions, the Minister rather ducked a good one from long-time Katfriend Clive Thorne (RPC) on whether, in light of the popularity of the new Patent Box tax benefits, there was going to be a Copyright Box and a Design Box too.  As might be expected of a Minister whose portfolio did not include responsibility for tax, Dr Cable's answer was warm, encouraging, fluent and totally evasive. Another long-time Katfriend, ACID's Dids Macdonald, congratulated the Minister for describing the design profession as the fusion of creativity and innovation, but warned that improvements and amendments to the law on registered designs would be of little benefit to the large number of small design-based businesses that relied almost entirely on unregistered designs. Yet another Katfriend, Tim Roberts (speaking on behalf of CIPA) pressed the Minister on the likelihood that industry would be paying for the privilege of doing potentially patentable research involving the genetic resources of developing countries: he was rewarded with a truly political response, which concluded with some puzzling references to the new European digital environment.

Next came an "ask the audience" session in which everyone in the auditorium was treated to a press-button device and was invited to use it.  Basic findings (on which panellists Mike Weatherley MP, BECTU's Martin Spence and Premier League's Bill Bush commented) were as follows:

Has the Government been supportive of those who rely on IP?
  • Not supportive 16.7%
  • Quite supportive 69%
  • Very supportive 14.3%
Has knowledgeable is the Government of the economic contribution made by IP?
  • Not knowledgeable 20.8%
  • Sort of knowledgeable 55.7%
  • Very knowledgeable 23.6%
Which is the bigger problem: online traders or retail outlets? [subject to correction: this flashed up and was taken down while this blogger blinked ...]
  • Online 84%
  • Retail 16%
Is it easy to tell if a site is legal or not?
  • Easy 42.9%
  • Difficult 57.1%
Which do you view as having the most important role to play in the battle against IP infringement online?
  • Enforcement 40.7%
  • Education 35.6%
  • Availability 23.7%
Who has the greatest responsibility for educating consumers about the importance of IP?
  • Industry 50.5%
  • Government 36.6%
  • Consumer groups 12.9%
Alliance reflects on priorities for new governments: Part 1 Alliance reflects on priorities for new governments: Part 1 Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, October 17, 2013 Rating: 5

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