By Claire West

The Government today launched a call for evidence on how the UK intellectual property system can better support our globally successful design industry.

At an event hosted by the Design Council, Baroness Wilcox urged the UK’s design community to gather information and data on what makes our design industry tick and what Government can do to support innovation and growth.

The lack of evidence available on this innovative sector was highlighted by Professor Ian Hargreaves in his review of Intellectual Property and Growth. In its response, the Government committed to gaining a better understanding of whether the design rights system in the UK is geared to the needs of business.

Design is important to the UK economy, with an estimated £33 billion invested in design and architectural services in 2008. But there are questions about whether the design industry is properly supported by the Intellectual Property system.

To help answer these questions, and properly target and inform policy change, the Government has today issued a 'call for evidence' in relation to the design sector and launched a supporting online questionnaire/survey aimed at business.

Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Wilcox said:

“UK design has an excellent reputation. From fashion to aerospace and from graphic design to technology, the UK design industry is held in high regard across the world. However, we must maintain that excellence and the Government is committed to doing more to support the design industry. I urge the business community to participate in this call for evidence and help shape the future of design in the UK.”

At the same event, Baroness Wilcox announced the publication of the first phase of research into the use of design rights in the UK. The research shows that the most intensive spenders on design in the UK are business services, manufacturing and construction sectors. Relative to other countries in Europe the UK spends significantly on design related products and services; but there is very low awareness of design rights. The research also found that registered design rights are used mainly in specific business sectors, such as furniture and clothing.