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IP advice is not regulated, nor is patent drafting. Only qualified people can call themselves patent agents, so there is plenty of scope for advisers to enter the market if they choose to. Many have, so the first proposal the IPO have put forward is to publish an online directory that provides names and qualifications so businesses can pick and choose what they think they need. That seems to be about the extent of the proposed involvement of the private sector.
The next section deals with getting advice into public sector programmes which seems to be more awareness related and something the IPO itself will take on.
There is a short section on the Technology Strategy Board's Catapult Centres. They sound interesting places and it would be very interesting were they to contain some patent resources. Are there any jobs or even office space going in these organisations? Some SOLO members might find it fun to be based in one.
The PatLib Library Network gets a welcome boost and maybe some much needed resources. See its blog which highlights some of its members activities. Note that business can have a free one hour consultation with a patent agent if they are prepared to wait up to 6 weeks.
Local Enterprise Partnerships may have a role.
An Independent IP Advisory service is then proposed which suggests what many SMEs want is patent advice on a subsidised basis. The ides is that this might be associated with or linked to the Manufacturing Advisory Service
So far I don't see any proposal for a Business Masterclass for patent agents to make them more commercially aware of how IP really develops within a business. Only occasionally do patent agents get full feedback on the impact of IP on the long term business cycle and never if they work in firms who major on the profitable agency work, so access to real business school training might be welcome.
The effort needs to go to support those businesses prepared to accept some level of risk, who aim to develop businesses on a decent scale and can attract and manage significant levels of investment. Those are perhaps businesses likely to apply for TSB grants, rather than those who walk into a library. It is to be hoped that this project really helps to boost the benefits of working with competent IP advisers. Perhaps I will see you at the IPO's new Westminster office on the afternoon of Friday, 22 June to toss these ideas around a bit more. Question is how do you reserve a place?