Monday, 28 April 2008

Two is company, three's a crowd

Writing in the UK Intellectual Property Office e-zine IP Insight, UK Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Morgan has a special message for World Intellectual Property Day. There is all the usual concern about under-exploitation of IP rights, damage done to the economy through infringement and piracy, the need for government to provide incentives for creativity etc -- which leaves one feeling that the IP system is somehow a snuggly relationship between a loving government and the deserving creator in which the professional adviser has no place.

Right: not everyone can afford Bird & Bird ... and some people view the IP professions as little more than vultures

The role of professional advisers is not parasitic. Someone has to pay patent and trade mark attorneys, solicitors etc so they must look as though they are feeding off this lovely relationship between government -- which gives the rights and incentives -- and creators who turn them into wealth. But isn't the role of the IP professional creative too? Patent claims and trade mark specifications don't exist in nature, and the cost to a rights owner (or a business affected by someone else's rights) can be catastrophic if things go wrong. And isn't it licensing, distribution agreements, outsourcing contracts and so on which mean that the inventions the government is so keen to promote actually get made in the factories and sold in the shops?

CIPA, ITMA and other representative bodies of IP professionals should waste no time in commissioning some first-rate research into what proportion of gross national product is attributable to their skills and creativity? The results may cause politicians to appreciate that the professions are part of the creative and innovative process, not vultures that feed on the carcase of its aspirations.

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