By Claire West

The UK has a world-class Intellectual Property (IP) framework, which must be maintained to support continuing investment and growth, the CBI says.

In its submission to the Independent Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, the UK’s leading business group said that the IP framework is fundamental to supporting our world-class IP-intensive sectors, including pharmaceuticals, aerospace, commercial goods, and the creative industries.

Copyright, a particular focus of the review, is the lifeblood of our creative industries, and should not be eroded. In the digital age, new technologies are changing how information is distributed, and we must ensure that people’s ideas are protected. Wholesale changes to the IP framework could damage confidence, reduce the incentive for further investment, and threaten growth.

To help drive future growth, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) must provide more targeted support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to enable them to commercialise their ideas swiftly. This should include a fast-track SME patent scheme, better guidance on protecting and using IP, and improved access to finance for smaller IP-rich firms.

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said:

“Intellectual Property is a key economic driver, and should be considered one of our crown jewels. The UK has a number of IP-rich industries across the country, where FTSE 100 firms sit alongside young, high-growth SMEs. For example, the biotech and technology companies of Silicon Fen in Cambridgeshire, Motorsport Valley in the Midlands, and the UK music and film industries in London and Salford.

“The Government must set out a clear and unambiguous aspiration to make the UK the best place to create, develop and exploit IP. Any significant change or weakening of the existing IP regime, particularly erosion of the copyright laws, could undermine our creative industries, and be a big risk. We must play to our natural strengths by supporting the UK’s world-class creative and other IP-rich industries, which are fundamental to growth.

“The Government must reassure those who already invest here, and attract those who have yet to do so, by maintaining the stability our IP law currently provides. The support it offers to SMEs could and should be improved. By developing the IPO’s offering to small and medium- sized firms, the Government can bolster their innovative potential and create new entrepreneurial activity.”

To ensure the UK’s IP system continues to attract investment and support growth, the CBI is calling on the Government to:

Create a comprehensive support strategy for IP-rich businesses, which recognises that the IP framework is influenced by the wider tax, competition and skills environment

Develop a better understanding of IP amongst competition authorities

Increase the UK’s tax competitiveness, beginning with a smooth introduction for the patent box scheme

Simplify the procedure for seizing counterfeit goods
Use foreign and trade policies to promote robust enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) globally

The CBI believes strong enforcement of IPR globally is essential for UK growth. It is international infringement which causes most damage to UK competitiveness.

Mr Cridland said:

“The CBI fully supports the Government’s pledge to put trade and investment at the heart of the growth strategy. The strength of growth in emerging markets is a clear opportunity for IP-rich firms in the UK. Their strong export potential can contribute to GDP and ease trade deficits. By selling goods and services to these economies, UK firms can create new markets and establish demand cycles for the future.

“To make this possible, the UK Government must push for effective IP enforcement at a global level. It would give UK-based firms fair access to foreign markets which respect intellectual property rights.”