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Hargreaves Review of IP


16-06-2011 18:59:12 by Admin

The national SME Innovation Allianceʼs observations of the Hargreaves Review of IP

The Hargreaves IP review and report (“the Review”) is primarily a digital review of Copyright. The Report’s title “Digital Opportunity” demonstrates a very narrow Review that did not adequately cover anything other than copyright, and even then focussing on ‘digital rights’. Copyright has not been raised as an issue in need of urgent addressing by a single member of the national SME Innovation Alliance. Further, it was billed as a Copyright review with the UKIPO sending out an email showing it from their ‘copyright directorate’. Hardly surprising then that most SMEs missed the Review or took little notice of it.

SMEs that did respond raised numerous points about patenting that do need urgent addressing. They were almost entirely ignored with opposing recommendations made. The Review thus fails to deliver what UK plc actually requires in order to achieve growth and create jobs.

The Review promotes, with respect to patents, a large company agenda onto UK plc even though UK plc depends more on SME innovation. The Review acknowledges this in 1.5 - "Over the last decade, the majority of productivity growth and job creation has come from innovation, primarily by small and young firms". Despite this, no SME representative was on the review panel and this serious omission shows through in the Review’s conclusions. IBM, an American large corporation, was represented as the sole member with (large corporate) knowledge of the patent system.

The Review, in figure 2.1, shows that patents are far more of an issue to business than copyright. It also states that patent enforcement is more of an issue than copyright enforcement (8.2) So it seems extraordinary that the Review focussed on copyright when valuable patents are a far more pressing need for reform in order to generate growth and jobs within UK plc. The answer is provided by the Review in 10.10 with respect to lobbying ‘specifically copyright policy’ where it is admitted that ‘there is no doubt that the persuasive powers of celebrities and important UK creative companies have distorted policy outcomes.’ Indeed, it has been reported that a review of digital rights in copyright was requested to the Prime Minister (who referred to Britain’s IP laws not allowing a ‘Google’ to develop) by a No 10 advisor, husband of a senior Google employee. The Review seems to largely parrot the lobbying of the rich and powerful.

Download the full SMEIA concerns with the Review.