At the end of July, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) announced that a strong intellectual property system will be key as the UK aims to be a global leader in innovation. It is clear that the UK is facing some major challenges; net-zero, the levelling up agenda, global trade ambitions and, not least, economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
As IPO’s Chief Executive Tim Moss said: “The UK’s new Innovation Strategy is the starting point for the government’s long-term vision of how we will cement our role as global leaders in innovation and deliver the target of R&D investment at 2.4% of GDP – and it has IP running through the heart of it.”
What has the IPO announced?
Here at GovGrant we certainly agree that IP will play a central role in creating the right environment to meet these challenges. Our belief is that while the UK is a world leader in innovation, driven by R&D initiatives, we frequently underperform on the commercialisation of that innovation. We support any move that promotes, educates, and funds our universities and businesses to leverage their IP.
The IPO has announced, specifically that they will:
- Launch a new ‘IP Access’ fund which will build on the successful IP audit plus programme. This new scheme will support businesses to manage and commercialise their IP so that they can use the value within their IP assets to grow their business.
- Launch a new, free, fit for purpose support offer for businesses and organisations to make the most of their IP in overseas markets.
- Extend its education programme to reach more higher education-based researchers during the next academic year. This will help them better understand and manage the IP they create and generate the maximum benefit from their research.
The IP Access fund is an opportunity to change focus – prosperity rather than protection
Whilst the IP Access fund is welcome, we would say that the previous IP audits did not go far or wide. They were still wrapped up in protection-led issues instead of focusing on prosperity. The IPO has a real opportunity to redefine what IP is all about through the IP Access fund to move away from protection and bureaucracy. This will ensure that the fund is engaging, worthwhile, and commercially orientated.
IPO consultation on artificial intelligence (AI)
In addition, the IPO will consult a number of issues to strengthen the UK’s IP system, specifically the protection of inventions and creations made by artificial intelligence (AI). The IPO will also lead a call for views to better understand how the current framework for Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) is functioning to support innovation and to establish whether change is needed.
There is a widely held misconception that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ ML) innovations are not patentable in the UK and Europe. Gaining patent protection for computer-implemented inventions (CII) can certainly be done. While software per se is unpatentable, there are exemptions to the rule.
GovGrant is a market leader in helping innovative AI/ML companies commercialise their innovation with specialist IP services and we will be contributing to this consultation.