Mark Owen, partner, Harbottle & Lewis

Opinion: UK economy needs an IP tsar

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  • You would think that the BBC and consumer interest in getting access to music and the like would generate a real interest at least in copyright amongs Ministers.
    We should also put some trust in the relatively recent appoint ment of a new Comptroller, John Alty who might be expected to take on a more public profile following the death of SABIP

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  • As a member of SABIP's Copyright Expert Panel, and having experienced 'de-quangoing' at first hand, I want to endorse Mark's call for ensuring that IP is at the heart of Government policy. John Alty, the IPO's new CEO, has written on the IPO website that "For me, the IPO’s work is at the heart of the UK’s future prosperity. Knowledge creation and exploitation will deliver the high value added business we need in the UK. That gives all of us a big responsibility to achieve our potential and use our expertise to deliver for our customers."
    That's good to hear. So the key question is: how does the Government deliver on that aim?
    I think the key is 'joined up' thinking. IPO is part of BIS, within the portfolio of Baroness Wilcox as Parliamentary Secretary for Business, Innovation and Skills. But the Creative Industries sits partly in BIS and partly within DCMS - Ed Vaizey is the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, jointly with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. He reports to the Business Secretary as well as to the Culture Secretary in respect of the digital economy and telecommunications.
    We live in tough times so whether we'll get the 'IP Tsar' to pull it all together may be doubtful. But what we can and should do as the IP legal community is to make a strong call on Government to ensure that as regards the creative industries BIS and DCMS deliver 'joined up' policy making. Any changes in IP policy must be evidence based and designed to help, and not hinder, the UK Creative Industries fulfil their full economic, social and cultural potential.
    As IP professionals, we can offer Government, especially the IPO, our experience of what's needed to make the IP system function efficiently and effectively.
    IPO will be looking for external oversight and challenge to its research programme panel , so let's be ready to offer it. Let's be ready to propose answers and solutions to the really tough questions such as "what is needed from a policy perspective to make permissions management easy, efficient and economical so that innovative new business models can flourish and reward creators, producers, publishers and others in the value chain?"; "what are the important differences between the various sectors of the creative industries that must be borne in mind in policy making?"
    Now is a great opportunity for us as IP professionals to make our voice heard. The issues are just too important for us not to do so.

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