Measures introduced to help SMEs protect their intellectual property

Posted on 8 Dec 2011

The Intellectual Property Office has introduced measures to help smaller firms patent and protect their IP, in response to The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth.


The package forms part of the Government’s Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth, which is published today. The strategy sets out plans to boost growth through investment in research and innovation across the UK.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has introduced:

• An online business advisor training tool that will give advisors the skills and information they need to help businesses protect the value of their intellectual property.
• An online register of advisors to help businesses find the right advisor for them quickly and easily.
• Consulting businesses, business advisors and IP specialists about how lower cost IP legal and commercial advice can be provided.
• Offering free intellectual property audits to businesses through routes such as the Technology Strategy Board.
• Enhancing existing schemes such as mediation to provide a more efficient dispute resolution service to reduce costly legal cases.

Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Wilcox said: “The innovative ideas and creations of SMEs can be worth billions of pounds so it is essential that we provide them with the support they need to protect and enforce their rights.
“The package of measures outlined today will allow the Intellectual Property Office to build even stronger links with businesses, giving them the confidence to trade both in the UK and abroad.”

The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth recommended that the Intellectual Property Office should produce plans to improve the accessibility of the IP system to smaller companies. The Government is now in the process of implementing some of them.

“The UK faces a tough economic outlook, but this strategy could be the beginning of a process that turns the UK into the most innovative economy in the world,” said Birgitte Anderson, director of The Big Innovation Centre. “However, it remains unclear whether the scale and scope of the strategy is big enough to underpin a truly innovative economic policy. Proof of real commitment will be confident backing for such initiatives as the rebranded Catapult Centres.”

Charles Levy, senior economist at the Big Innovation Centre, added: “Even though many of the initiatives don’t represent major new investments, measures such as a new ‘Open Data Institute’, a new ‘Research Gateway’ supporting access to publically funded research information and £145 million for new e-infrastructure will all punch above their weight because they are part of a coordinated vision for innovation.

Since the Hargreaves Review was published, the IPO claims to have supported SMEs in several ways recommend in the review. For example, it launched Ipsum, an online patent service designed to save UK businesses up to £100,000 per year by removing the cost of requesting patent documents, instead they will now be available for free online.

And the IPO has said that a small claims process for cases under £5,000 will be introduced at the Patents County Court for cases involving copyright, trade marks and designs.