Wednesday 30 April 2014

A vision for growth in IP-rich businesses

The Alliance for Intellectual Property is an organisation working across the creative industries, in the UK, via their trade bodies, to ensure intellectual property rights receive the protection they need and deserve.

On Monday 28 April, the Alliance launched its Manifesto, outlining the requirements of both Government and the Creative Industries to continue to build on the success of the sector in the UK. The Manifesto is intended to help inform political party manifestos of the importance of the Creative, Design and Branded Goods industries, in the run up to the General Election in 2015. 

Richard Mollet, Chair of the Alliance for Intellectual Property, provided some background on where IP legislation was in the UK today. Following the previous General Election, it was widely thought that the enormity of the Gowers Review and the progress of implementation of some of its recommendations by the IPO, had put to bed many of the issues surrounding IP legislation.  It came as some surprise when the Coalition Government, primarily Prime Minister David Cameron, announced a whole new review of IP legislation in the UK, to be led by Professor Ian Hargreaves.  The review sought to jettison the existing framework of IP legislation that businesses strongly rely and has led to considerable uncertainty in the market.

Susie Winter, Director General at the Alliance for Intellectual Property, noted that the Manifesto document was produced following an extensive survey of the Creative Industries and from more detailed discussions with many of those respondents.  There were several very clear messages that arose:

  • IP is very important to growth (89% of businesses felt it very important with a further 9% somewhat important)
  • Developments in technology were seen as a key growth area for over 50% of respondents
  • Over 90% of businesses felt that a stable IP framework was crucial for their business to gain investment
Set against this, there were a number of very clear messages about what the Government has been doing to support Creative Industries:

  • The UK Government has not been very effective in making the UK an attractive location for basing a business reliant on IP
  • Public enforcement bodies have not been very effective in policing IP crime
  • Current deterrents against IP infringement are not very effective. The biggest threats facing Creative Industries were piracy, copying, counterfeiting and the weakening of IP rights.

Sticking the boot in

A couple of industry representatives then gave us their view.  Rachel Dews of Hunter Boots introduced the brands she is responsible for, which from small beginnings in Scotland in 1856, now have offices in Edinburgh, London and New York.  She emphasised that it is not just loss of earnings due to IP infringement that was the problem.  Counterfeit goods threatened the perception of their products, due to poor manufacturing standards, both in the quality of the product produced and the ethical standards of production.  The UK was currently in a privileged position in terms of the number of IP-rich businesses.  She called on political parties to recognise the importance brands play in the economy and start supporting it more effectively.
The Alliance's IP Map of the UK

Reel investment

On a more positive note, Trevor Albery from Warner Brothers, described the key investments they have made in the UK, which had been possible under the existing IP framework.  Leavesden Studios was now attracting key business to the UK, and the purchase of IP-rich businesses by Time Warner indicates the key talent base that the UK has in the movie, games and television industries.  IP is the building block in this field and the UK’s current standing in these areas internationally is a reflection of that.   It was essential to be able to make returns on the investment in IP in order to continue further investment and retain the UK’s leading position.

Lavinia Carey, Director General of the British Video Association, discussed how the Manifesto called on industry to continue to play its part.  There are already a number of industry initiatives and licensing has been at the heart of many of them.   

Music to our ears

Licensing has seen the UK become home to the greatest number of music providers in the world, has the biggest games industry in Europe and helped launch locker services such Ultraviolet. The Content Map, launched in November 2012, has just seen a version made available in The Netherlands.  Campaigns such as Moments worth Paying For and the Real Deal have helped consumers understand the value of the content they are being asked to pay for, and had a significant effect on criminal activity in markets in the UK and overseas, respectively. 

The industry is working hard to maintain its world-leading position in the UK and must continue to support the UK Government by providing the best evidence it can to support policy-making.  Government must listen to the evidence.  IP crime undermines the ability of the industry to provide what the consumer wants. 

Richard Mollet reiterated what the industry would like to see from Government:

  • Cessation of the IP change agenda.  Industry has consistently proved that legislation is appropriate and the Government needs to acknowledge this
  • Support for IP in the investment community, which will come from a clear signal of a stable IP framework.
  • Representation and defence of the IP-rich creative industries outside the UK.  The UK is second only to the US in exporting music and has one of the largest publishing industries in the world.  

Press release

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