News story

Sweeping reforms for UK intellectual property laws

The Government announces plans to modernise intellectual property laws, aiding growth and adding billions to the UK economy.

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

The Government has accepted all ten recommendations made in Professor Hargreaves’ independent review on intellectual property, which estimates a potential benefit to the UK economy of up to £7.9 billion.

Download the Government response in full

Among the recommendations that have been accepted are:

  • That the UK should have a Digital Copyright Exchange; a digital market place where licences in copyright content can be readily bought and sold. This could add up as much as £2 billion a year to the UK economy by 2020. The Government will announce arrangements for how this work will be driven forward later in the year.
  • Copyright exceptions covering limited private copying should be introduced to realise growth opportunities. Thousands of people copy legitimately purchased content, such as a CD to a computer or portable device such as an IPod, assuming it is legal. This move will bring copyright law into line with the real world, and with consumers’ reasonable expectations.
  • Copyright exceptions to allow parody should also be introduced to benefit UK production companies and make it legal for performing artists, such as comedians, to parody someone else’s work without seeking permission from the copyright holder. It would enable UK production companies to create programmes that could play to their creative strengths, and create a range of content for broadcasters.
  • The introduction of an exception to copyright for search and analysis techniques known as ‘text and data mining’, allowing research scientists such as medical researchers greater access to data.
  • Establishing licensing and clearance procedures for orphan works (material with unknown copyright owners). This would open up a range of works that are currently locked away in libraries and museums and unavailable for consumer or research purposes.
  • That evidence should drive future policy - The Government has strengthened the Intellectual Property Office’s economics team and has begun a programme of research to highlight growth opportunities.

Alongside the Government response, a new intellectual property crime strategy and international strategy for intellectual property have been published.

IP Crime Strategy

The crime strategy outlines how the Intellectual Property Office will continue to enforce IP crime issues domestically. Counterfeit goods often use other company’s trade marks or infringe their copyright, which can lead to financial losses.

The international strategy sets out the UK’s five year vision to get the international IP framework in the best possible shape to support innovation and growth. Patent backlogs cost the global economy up to £7.4 billion a year.

Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Wilcox said:

“Intellectual property is a key UK export and global trade in IP licenses alone is worth more than £600 billion a year. UK businesses need to have confidence in the international IP framework so they are able to create and exploit value from their ideas.”

Published 3 August 2011