Intellectual Property reforms signal positive step for SMEs, says FAST | FAST

Intellectual Property reforms signal positive step for SMEs, says FAST

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Industry body broadly welcomes Government initiatives to challenge software piracy, but expresses need to focus on IP creation

Business Secretary Vince Cable’s upcoming measures to strengthen the Government’s Intellectual Property (IP) regime, improve education measures and empower SMEs to properly utilise their IP, hold great promise for the creators of digital content. The opportunity for reform should not be squandered, says the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST).

A campaign to raise awareness of the importance of Intellectual Property is set commence in Spring 2013. The campaign aims to raise public awareness of the damaging effects that counterfeiting and piracy have on businesses, change the way the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) delivers services, and empower enforcement agencies to challenge IP theft effectively.

Julian Heathcote Hobbins, General Counsel at FAST, said: “In the ongoing reform agenda, what we need are some sensible improvements in both education and enforcement. In this regard, the most recent announcements are especially welcome and present an opportunity for the coalition to demonstrate a commitment to copyright and the protection of creative industries in the UK. But it’s important that the reforms currently in play are considered carefully, particularly in relation to the IPO, whose focus must be the creation of IP rights in order to attract investment for growth.”

In the 2011 Review of Intellectual Property, Professor Hargreaves highlighted the difficulties faced by SMEs in accessing the intellectual property (IP) system. These included a lack of strategic commercially based IP advice, difficulties identifying the right source of advice and the cost of IP management.

Julian continued: “Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the proposals relate to SMEs. Small and micro-sized companies comprise the innovative backbone of the software industry, but, as highlighted by the Hargreaves Review, often face difficulties in accessing the Intellectual Property system. I’d hope that by streamlining enforcement and improving education measures, SMEs will get the support that they desperately need.

“SMEs stand at the forefront of innovation, accounting for 99 percent of all businesses in the UK, employing over 13 million people, but many SMEs have only limited knowledge of IP and the impact it may have on their business. It’s vital that the government supports SMEs and the creators of content by making the path to justice as clear as possible. To this end, we would like to invite Dr Cable to experience first-hand the trials faced by small businesses on a daily basis to gain a fuller understanding of their needs,” he concluded.