Hargreaves review makes IP recommendations

A Government-initiated review into intellectual property has been delivered by Professor Ian Hargreaves, concluding that ten adjustments need to be made to current IP laws, which he sees as obstructive to innovation and economic growth.

The Hargreaves report – initiated in December 2010 – proposes ‘a change in the strategic direction of IP Policy Direction’.

Recommendations include an official copyright system ‘where nothing is unusable because the rights owner cannot be found’; an approach to exceptions in copyright ‘which encourages successful new digital technology businesses’; a new patent system; IP advice for smaller companies; and ‘refreshed institutional governance’ of the IP system.

Laws ‘more than three centuries’ old are highlighted as a cause of stifling innovation and the report claims that, with the new measures in place, annual GDP can improve by between 0.3- 0.6 per cent.

Group Anti Copying in Design has broadly welcomed the measures. Acid chief executive Dids Macdonald says, ‘This is the first time from six reviews in four years that design has been raised as an issue.’

‘Clear IP policy and tangible implementation is welcomed,’ says Macdonald, who hopes the ‘further research’ promised by the report leads to fast-tracking prosecution for the theft of design.

The report does make a suggestion for a fast-track claims court, where IP theft can be addressed. This more cost- and time-effective solution may be a better route for small design consultancies to bring about litigation, Macdonald believes.

However, Macdonald says design groups including the Design Council, the Design Business Association and the Chartered Society of Designers failed to contribute to the review, and says more could have been done to ensure further change. ‘We are all to blame as an industry,’ Macdonald says.

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