Press release

New Act strengthens intellectual property rights for UK businesses

The new Intellectual Property Act receives Royal Assent (14 May 2014).

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


UK businesses will be able to better protect their intellectual property rights in the UK and abroad, with the new Intellectual Property Act receiving Royal Assent (14 May 2014).

A key part of the Intellectual Property Act is the creation of new powers for the UK to implement the Unified Patent Court Agreement. This is a central part of introducing a single patent across almost all EU countries which could lead to savings of up to £40 million per year for UK businesses.

The Intellectual Property Act also provides new protections for designers, as well as removing red tape and some of the uncertainties for businesses when protecting their designs. It will also introduce a number of online services to help businesses better manage their intellectual property.

Minister for Intellectual Property, Lord Younger said:

Continued investment in intellectual property is vital to all businesses, as it contributes £16 billion to the UK economy each year. It is essential that we continue to work hard to create the right environment for them to flourish so we can benefit from their creative designs, inventions and ideas.

I am confident that this Act will further strengthen our world-class IP system – from research to market – and to help businesses of all sizes continue to thrive.

The key policies that will be implemented include:

  • providing new protections for pre-publication research to ensure the UK’s universities and the research sector remains a world-leader
  • the introduction of a criminal sanction for intentional copying of registered designs - this will deter those who knowingly copy UK registered designs and will provide greater protection for our hugely important design sector. In 2009, UK businesses invested over £15 billion in designs. The Act seeks to protect and develop this important industry
  • measures to help businesses assess the strength of their IP case before going through formal and costly legal proceedings, with the creation of a design opinions service
  • the expansion of the existing patent opinions service to give businesses involved in potential patent litigation an impartial view on the strength of their case on a much wider range of issues
  • an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act to better protect pre-publication research. As a result researchers can more easily validate and analyse their work before putting it into the public domain
  • allowing the UK Intellectual Property Office to share information on unpublished patent applications with other national patent offices. This will help clear backlogs internationally

It is expected that the new measures will come into force from October 2014, with all measures implemented by late 2015.

Notes to editors:

  1. The IPO is part of the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills and is responsible for the national framework of Intellectual Property rights, comprising patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.

  2. This year the UK was rated number one in Taylor Wessing’s Global IP Index in respect of obtaining, exploiting and enforcing the main types of IP rights.

  3. To find out more about the IP Act visit the IPO website.

  4. The Intellectual Property Office has produced plain English guides for businesses: What does the Intellectual Property Act mean for you? explaining what some of the changes to IP law on Designs and Patents mean.

  5. The government’s long-term plan is to build a strong, more competitive economy and a fairer society.
    Industrial strategy gives impetus to the plan for growth by providing businesses, investors and the public with clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.
    The first achievements and future priorities of the industrial strategy have been published.

Published 15 May 2014