The All-Party Intellectual Property Group of MPs yesterday announced that it is to conduct an inquiry into the role of Government in protecting and promoting Intellectual Property:


 There has been increasing disquiet amongst the IP community at what some have seen as the IPO’s apparent enthusiasm for implementing Professor Hargreaves’ recommendations regardless of the impact on the rights of copyright owners. Even though there are good bits – like the support for the creation of digital copyright exchanges and the tweaking of the fair use for private copying exemption to reflect current real world use (such as copying lawfully-acquired music from one format to another)  both the orphan works proposals and the extended collective licensing ones would see swathes of UK and foreign creators lose the right to control and in some cases receive any reward for use of their work.

 Quite separately, there is a question to be addressed about the proper role of the IPO. Is there a tension between its function as the independent validator and granter of legal registered IP rights, its current activity in developing and implementing IP policy, its provision of commercial IP services in competition with the private sector and/or its enthusiasm to take on (per Hargreaves recommendation) the issue of statutory opinions on copyright issues? Some of us were brought up on a doctrine of the British constitution that relied on the separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers. Is that doctrine still applicable today? 

This is an opportunity for the legal IP community to express any concerns at a level where they will be heard. Although the current major programmes in the IPO relate to copyright and designs, those whose major interests are patents and trade marks might want to bear in mind that they could be nex

This investigation is working to a very tight timetable because it wants to feed its findings into the White Paper due in early summer. Submissions responding to the following six questions must be submitted by 30th March. There is a limit of four pages so massive detail is not required but examples or evidence supporting comments will be helpful.

 1) What should the objective of IP policy be?


 2) How well co-ordinated is the development of IP policy across Government? Is IP policy

functioning effectively on a cross departmental basis? What changes to the machinery of

government do you believe would deliver better IP policy outcomes?


3) There have been numerous attempts to update the IP framework in the light of changes

brought about by the digital environment. How successful have these been and what

lessons can be learnt from these for policy developments?


4) How effective is the Intellectual Property Office and what should its priorities be?


5) UK IP policy sits within European and supranational agreements. How should the UK

government co-ordinate its policy at an international level and what should it do to promote

IP abroad to encourage economic growth? Do you have examples of good and poor practice

in this area?


6) Protecting, and enforcement of, the IP framework often sits in very different departments to

those that develop IP policy and those that have responsibility for the industries most

affected. What impact does this have and how can it be improved?