Event Report: IPAN World IP Day Celebrations

World IP Day takes place on Friday 26th April 2019. Yesterday, The Intellectual Property Awareness Network (IPAN) kicked off the celebrations with their annual flagship event on the House of Commons Terrace [As IP Minster Chris Skidmore noted at the event, if Downing Street can move St Georges day then we can celebrate World IP Day a few days early whilst parliament is sitting!]. The theme of the event was the future of new technology in the automotive industry. Here's what happened:

John Ogier, Chair of IPAN, opened the event, followed by a welcome from Pete Wishart MP the parliamentary host and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for IP. The focus was on the UK motor industry and motor racing technologies in both autonomous and electric vehicles that could provide cleaner and more efficient transport to lower carbon emissions and reduce pollution. [It was somewhat applicable then to be clambering our way through the protesters to get into Parliament!] John said. “Industry and government need to work together to avoid over-regulation, invest in the infrastructure to enable these technologies to be brought to market and ensure that future international trade and IP."
Left to right:
John Ogier, Chris Skidmore MP, Hayleigh Bosher (this Kat!)
Image: Fiona Hanson

The first speaker Chris Skidmore was appointed as Minister for IP in December, and is also minister for education. He described the challenges of working across two departments with a broad portfolio from technologies, universities, industrial strategy and space exploration. However, he described intellectual property as the golden thread that runs through all his work in government, the nerve centre of his role since IP links research, economic growth, the arts, sciences and underpins our economy as a whole. He did mention the B word, noting that the withdrawal from the EU has created a period of uncertainty but recognised the priority for the government to ensure a smooth and effective IP system regardless of the outcome of the negotiations, preparing for all eventualities, taking forward 5 statutory instruments to the commons specifically related to IP.  He ended with this comment:

I am confident in our IP future and the support we are giving to the UK's creators, but its with your help above all... I am keen to ensure that IP doesn't be seen as a Cinderella subject within government, it is absolutely crucial going forward, when we look at new technologies and new necessary regulations that we need to put forward into order to protect intellectual property of these innovations, that we work together as one single IP community and as a result I am confident that we will have one of the worlds best IP regimes for years to come.

Dr Manjari Chandran-Ramesh, from IP Group who is the largest investor in the Oxford University spin-out company Oxbotica - develops software that brings autonomy to any vehicle. She said that autonomous vehicles are already being tested on UK roads and that she believes that we will see autonomous vehicles operating in very specific areas at first and expanding to longer journeys, regulation permitting.

Stephen Lambert delivering his talk
Image: Fiona Hanson
Next, Stephen Lambert, talked about his experience of IP as Head of Automotive Electrification at McLaren Applied Technologies. He recognised the importance of protecting IP for key innovations, citing the carbon fibre chassis technology that is now widely used in formula 1. He gave examples of inventions that were developed in motor-sport and have been commercialised to benefit the public as a whole such as disc brakes. He discussed the move towards autonomous vehicles and electronic batteries, mentioning that since  McLaren provide the powertrain for all 40 Formula E cars in motor racing’s inaugural season, winning every race! [They developed a battery that enables the Gen2 Formula E car to complete a full race distance on a single charge, by almost doubling the amount of usable energy to 54 Kw/h. If you want to nerd out on race car tech there's more here].

Ready for your cat car to drive you to work?
Image: Gianna Elena
The concluding speaker was David Wong, Technology and Innovation Manager at Motor Manufacturers and Traders SMMT. He focused on Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV), saying that two thirds of new cars sold in the UK today have some form of connectivity and predicting that by 2026, all new cars sold here will be connected. He recognised the growing importance of IP in light of the rise of digital connectivity and services such as automated driving software, fuel cell tech, and battery management systems, but argued that IP needs to be supported by an excellent business model in order to be of utility.

The title of the event was "is innovation in the UK motor industry heading for the exit?" Well, the take home message from the event was extremely optimistic. It seems the motor industry is developing at an exciting pace, and whilst we might not yet be able to take a back seat whilst our cars drive us safely to work, it may not be too far in the future!
View from the HoC Terrace

Obviously, regulation would need to allow for autonomous vehicles, but its also a question of public trust in the technology. Manjari pointed out an important factor - that as people, we are much more forgiving of human error than of technological mistake. The irony being that many road accidents are caused by driver distraction. And, there are so many questions to be addressed, such as who is liable if their is an accident between two autonomous vehicles? Or between a human driver and an autonomous vehicle?

This is an annual event organised by IPAN which is an independent not for profit, inclusive, membership organisation that brings together organisations and individuals from all areas of IP to champion the importance and understanding of IP through events, publications, research projects. [This Kat is on the board of Directors of IPAN].

Event Report: IPAN World IP Day Celebrations Event Report: IPAN World IP Day Celebrations Reviewed by Hayleigh Bosher on Thursday, April 25, 2019 Rating: 5

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